Monday, April 28, 2008

Back in a week

Just a quick note to say that we're going off-line at our house this week; we're observing TV Turn-off week (one week late) and for us that includes computer/video stuff as well. I won't be posting and I won't be visiting any blogs. Have a wonderful week yourself!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Fait Accompli

I think I'm calling it "Adrift," and I think I'm calling it done. I remembered why I'd put it aside so many years ago; there are enough bias edges to sink a ship no matter how you cut it, and my machine piecing skills are nowhere near my hand piecing skills. Given the design, if this were going to be any bigger I would need to make 3 more units just like this one and I don't think I have it in me. Do I? It's destined to be a wall quilt anyway, so it really doesn't need to be bigger (hear me as I convince myself...). I think I'm going to try going without a binding along the edge and just need to decide how to quilt it.
Meanwhile, I present the letter "I" for the ABC-Along 2008, and its companion:
"I" is for "iris."

Tomorrow morning at school, as we return from our week's vacation, many parents will be expressing their relief and delight that they once again can drop their children off at school and get on with their lives. They are good people, and fine parents, but it always shocks me to hear people talk that way; we are unanimously disappointed to have our vacation weeks, our weekends, our summers end. It's not that Dean doesn't love school because he truly does, but we all three of us love being together and making the most of our days off. As usual, the week was more hectic than expected and filled with less of what I thought we'd accomplish and more of what I didn't anticipate. And as usual, it has left us wanting more.

This last day seems to be shaping up as an indoor day; it is gray and chilly out this morning and looking as though it really might rain. Dean originally wanted to go to the zoo today, but has now decided he'd really rather just stay home. Yesterday, after our soccer game, I offered to take us all out for ice cream but Dean wanted to go home, pointing out very practically that we have ice cream (and lots of it) in our own freezer. It is charming and wondrous and sometimes a little frustrating to me to have a child who so loves home (I myself enjoy trips to the zoo or the ice cream stand).

But mostly I am grateful to be in this place with these people and need to appreciate that more. I think I also need to learn to be comfortable doing my own things even while we're all home; somehow I always seem to feel that I should either be doing what Ken and/or Dean are doing or else catching up on chores which is probably why I'm not as good as they are at just hanging out at home. That's a worthy goal, then, for today. Well, after I walk the dog.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


Almost done cutting and then on to sewing -- I will get this top finished this week. When I designed this quilt block, it felt like such an incredible departure from the quilting I'd been doing before; the abstract design was built off a study of symmetry and had nothing to do with traditional quilt making. But by today's standards, the underlying method here (ultra-precise pieces cut painstakingly from perfect templates) makes the project feel dated and uninteresting. I'm pushing on because I want this finished, I want to be able to look at this little quilt up on a wall. There are a few other WIPs in this category -- projects using methods I'm no longer interested in but things I don't want to leave permanently undone. My goal will be to knock a couple off this year without starting too many other things in the meantime. Along with trying to figure out how to like doing housework more, I also need to learn to love the finishing as much as I love the starting.

The unexpected, distracting ingredient in this vacation week is the weather. Oh sure, warmer days with brilliant sunshine were inevitable at some point, but after all the cold and gray we've had I never figured on it just now:

I don't think I'll be able to resist the garden today.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Zen and the art of something

It was hard to find places to step, coming out of school the other day, because I really do not like to walk on people's artwork.

We're on Spring Break this week and are trying not to burn out the first weekend; soccer practice and puppy kindergarten (against all odds, Biscuit graduated) and a far-away soccer game and a visit to Ken's parents (which Ken and Dean are on right now while I attempt to catch up on a zillion things at home). And those are just a few highlights. Just plain too much going on right now.

I'm cutting out pieces to make good on a quilt-making promise and still thinking that I can triumph over crochet. Making a mini April scrapbook because it seemed like a good idea at some point, baking, thinking about doing yard work, and cooking healthier dinners. Yes, almost simultaneously. Almost. Once when I just totally had my hands full (literally) and Dean asked me to do something MORE for him, I said, "how many things do you think I can do at one time?!?" I was exasperated. He didn't catch that exasperation part and after giving my question serious thought he answered, thoughtfully, "I don't know -- 10?"

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The letter 'H'

Letter form 'H' and...
...hello, Heuchera. Commonly, "coral bells." ABC-Along 2008 entries.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

When bad crafts happen to good people, or why I should have spent more than 15 minutes on the tutorials before attempting a pattern

Oh dear. I didn't expect perfection, or anything, but I thought I could attempt a stuffed-animal sized ripple blanket as my "learn to crochet" project and end up with something at least usable. Clearly I am having trouble not only following the pattern properly, but there's definitely something (or several somethings) terribly wrong with my overall technique, since...
...I am getting all these raised ridges as I go and... looks NOTHING like the perfectly flat work in the book. Am I yarning over incorrectly? Anyone know why I have those ridges? Dean, being the most amazing young man one could hope for, said, "oh, just keep going -- it will flatten out when we wash it and I love the colors!" But as much time as it has taken me to go this far, I'm on the fence about either starting over by ripping out, starting over by just tossing this bit, or keeping going with the idea that it will just look pathetic but Dean won't mind and I may "learn" as I go. Suggestions? To be honest, this is kind of why I hate attempting new things; I expect to be able to do things passably well right off the bat (although why I operate under that illusion is beyond me) and I don't like to take the time to work through every tutorial project before doing the thing I really want to do. Finding someone to give me some pointers in person would help, or I may do some searches today for some online tutorials. I do suspect that I'm not yarning over, or picking up the yarn for each new stitch (same thing, right?) correctly. I'm also not as keen to start over because I see after just a day that crocheting is going to really kick up the arthritis in my hands and I wonder how worth it that's going to be. But of course I invested in the 8-hook set at JoAnn's the other day (had a coupon!) and I dream of making crocheted softies....

Meanwhile, Operation Fun Town (while the daddy's away, the mice shall play) continues right on schedule. Chinese take-out last night while we watched Enchanted (VERY funny, although the camp-y-ness was a little lost on Dean), coffee cake and coffee for breakfast (it's all right -- his was really coffee milk more than coffee), extra Wii time (for him) and a friend coming over to play today. We need to remember to leave the basement door unlocked so Ken can get it at some point very late tonight, and I need to catch up a little more on the laundry. And get a little more crafting time in.

Friday, April 11, 2008

I don't know WHAT to call this....

I am pleased beyond pleased. I don't know if it will still be there if you go and look, but one of my photos from my hope revolution project is featured (bottom one in the left-side column) on the Hope Revolution site itself. Maybe she is rotating photos from the flickr pool? Anyway, it feels just unreasonably good to have made a contribution that's on the site itself.

That certainly feels much more rewarding than it felt on Monday when I spent all day cleaning and accomplished, among other things, this perfectly. clean. kitchen. island. Not rewarding because if I snapped the same picture today.... Well, why don't I just go and do that?

Ugh. That's why. The reality of how we live. I really would love it to be the other way. I'd love if the island was always kept clean and clear and shiny, and that the rest of the house were that way too. I just do not have the emotional nor physical capital (doesn't that sound grand?) to devote to it. Oh, I know we've been down this road before together. But there it is.

So Ken is in Las Vegas with an old friend from college and one of that guy's friends -- I think this is the third time this trio has treated itself to a weekend in Las Vegas just for fun. Must be nice! Dean and I are going to walk in and around and out of the house with our shoes on, repeatedly, eat the bad foods we like, and stay up late watching movies. I'm also planning to get some quilting time in. Don't be mad at us for secretly wishing that soccer practice tonight and the game tomorrow get rained out; we just want all the time we can to take advantage of having the place to ourselves.

And a fun find from Natalie:

68 words

Speed test

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Monday, April 7, 2008


And so it was! I took Ali Edward's weekend creativity challenge to use PhotoShop to add type to a photo -- nothing earth-shattering, but I thought it worked in this case so there you go. And despite the softness of this picture, I love it for the purity of Dean's joy that it shows.

Whew! Birthday party was yesterday, and while we'll be finishing up cake and extending birthday leniency for a few more days this one is a wrap. All good. We now re-join our usual lives, already in progress. Lots of housework to catch up on (always) and projects to get back to.

I tried a new recipe that gave amazing results for very little effort (my favorite kind) and can tell you honestly that if you or someone you feed is NOT a green bean fan, this preparation just might change everything. The original recipe calls for this to be a room temperature salad, but you could easily leave out the radicchio and serve the vegetables hot as a side dish.

Roasted Green Bean and Potato [Salad or Side] With {or Without} Radicchio (Adapted from Cook's illustrated magazine of March 2008)

1 lb. green beans washed and trimmed and cut to about 1 inch pieces
1 lb. red bliss or other small red new potatoes, scrubbed and cut in half or quarters
3 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 small minced garlic clove
1 small head radicchio, washed in cut into strips (optional)

Place an oven rack at the lowest point in oven, place large rimmed baking sheet on rack, and preheat oven to 500 f. Mix up the oil, salt, pepper, sugar, vinegar, and garlic in a large bowl, and toss beans and potatoes in there until they are coated. Use a slotted spoon to carefully transfer the vegetables on to the now blazing hot baking sheet and save the bowl with the bit of oil mix left in it. Spread the vegetables to a single layer and roast about 20 minutes (do not stir them once on the sheet). Keep a watch -- mine were totally done at 20 minutes.

Carefully transfer your beautifully browned, roasted vegetables back into the bowl and toss in whatever remains in the bottom of the bowl. Now here's where you have options. You could add in the radicchio and stir it up so that the heat of the vegetables wilts the radicchio, and then you could serve it hot or let it cool down to room temp. You could just serve the potatoes and beans without the radicchio. The original recipe calls for letting the vegetables cool and THEN adding the radicchio, but we found this weird (the lettuce was way too crispy to pair with the vegetables) -- the radicchio needs to wilt down and "cook" by the heat of the roasted stuff in our opinion.

Regardless, though, if you've never roasted a green bean I do believe you are in for a treat.

Friday, April 4, 2008


April 4, 1998:

April 4, 2008:
Dean, at this moment -- 6:17 a.m. -- is officially ten years old. I do not know how a decade slipped by us. It's hard to remember life without Dean, and yet it seems he got to this point in such a hop, skip, and a jump that it can't possibly have been ten years already. It is the constant song of parenthood: where did the time go?

Dean at ten is a kind, thoughtful, caring, funny, sometimes intense, always empathetic person. He sees humor everywhere, laughs easily, and clears his place when he's done eating. He loves Legos, he has no interest in candy generally but loves dark chocolate, he's an avid reader and he writes great stories. He says "please," "thank you," and "I'm sorry" without being reminded (almost always), and calls out "are you all right!?!" if he hears someone stumble or drop something or sneeze. He likes to get his own way but has learned to let go of needing to get his own way. He is knowledgeable about so many things -- animals, insects, geography, plants, Pokemon, birds, and football to name a few. He loves to be at home, and he's a great explorer. I cannot imagine life without him, and at the same time force myself to realize that if 10 came this quickly then tomorrow he'll be 20. We'll enjoy each step of that journey as we have of the journey so far, and appreciate him for who he is today.

Happy Birthday, Dean, to the best boy I could have ever wished for.