Monday, January 31, 2011

Our mountains

Three tuxedo jackets, with tails, done, done, and done. Made for the upcoming school play (A Midsummer Night's Dream), although not to be worn by Dean. HIS costume, much to my sewing chagrin, will consist of clothes he already owns and a strip of upholstery fabric cut (not even hemmed!) into a long strip -- a rough scarf. I adapted a bathrobe pattern to make these jackets and hope to get pictures of the boys who WILL be wearing them, although the date of the play is now up in the air thanks to all the snow days we've had and apparently will still have....

Took this picture of Ken yesterday, with the snow pile at the end of our driveway. Ken is 6'2" (so admittedly my 9' to 10' pile estimates were a little high). Here's what that same spot looked like about 4 years ago after a big storm:

And we thought this was a lot of snow!

Back to now, and more of the pile. The thing curves around to the right (that picture of Ken and Dean just above is the view to the right, opposite the garage door opening) and the big challenge is keeping the area clear enough so we can get the car in and out of the garage.

Here was the view of the back garden after that snow fall back in 2007, and here's what it looks like now:
Forecast is calling for, yes, another 20" of snow for us this week.

One person is NOT complaining.

One person really and truly does know how to make use of this amazing natural resource! I'm looking forward to the possibility of some more time to sew, but only to make things OTHER than white tuxedo jackets.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

What it is

This picture of Dean is from 4 years ago, during another snowy New England winter. I am continually reminded of the difference in children's perspective on snow from that of adults; joy, delight, adventure instead of frustration, resentment, and inconvenience.

I'm hoping to take a few new pictures today, including one of the 9 or 10 foot pile of snow at the end of our driveway. Apparently there's another storm brewing that could bring us more snow mid-week. The biggest challenge now is simply where to put the stuff; we're not getting any relief from the freezing temperatures so nothing's melting. And I'm a little worried about the roof.

But otherwise, I plan to finish up the work on the three white tuxedo-style jackets with tails that I'm making for the school play and to cook up some Asian-style mahi for dinner (with a whole tropical bent to show that we haven't given up hope).

And I'd like to formally state that I choose June 5th as the date by which that jumbo pile of snow at the end of the driveway will finally melt away.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Snow, squirrel, soup, science

Another snow day home from school yesterday (yippee!), and now about 3 feet of accumulated snow on the ground (uh, not so yippee!). It's funny to me how winters are either brutal -- storm after storm after storm -- or relatively snow-less; never a happy medium. Part of that whole jet stream business and all.
Mr. Christmas Squirrel kind of looks as though he's thinking, "sure, you can make me go to the party and wear the hat, but I'm NOT going to have fun." Sorry there's nothing to show scale; he's about 7 inches to the top of his hat. I'm going to have to figure out how to go into production mode with these Christmas crafts, or I can see that I'm going to end up with a lot of little things that we have to keep and nothing for the homemade gift supply.

Meanwhile, an absolute up-side to wintery days stuck indoors is the time to make soup! Lentils, collard greens, tomatoes, carrots. Yum. I adapted this recipe and encourage you to experiment with it, too!
And speaking of experiments! Dean needs to make a model of a human gallbladder this weekend and decided papier mache applied over a balloon was the way to go. I figured it would go most quickly if we suspended it and therefore could coat all sides on each pass. I always struggle to find the right level of support on these projects -- paving the way to make it possible, but then stepping back and letting Dean do all the actual work. He's doing a terrific job.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

That whooshing sound

A week has gone by? A week!?!

While the beauty of snow days is obvious, the dark underbelly is that they make the remaining work days unbelievably frenetic; this is my busiest time of year and it's really, really hard to keep up even without losing days. I so dislike this constant feeling of so much to do, so little time.

Aside being waist-deep in snow, I'm also in the midst of a great deal of school play costume sewing, somehow having allowed myself to be suckered into making many kids' costumes. 3 white tuxedo-type jackets with tails? HOW did I get myself into this? Hoping to finish those up, get Dean's costume sorted, and get some photos up here.

Meanwhile, still plucking away at Christmas crafting; Jenny's elf shoe pattern is here.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Snow day!

A real, true blizzard descended upon us on Tuesday night. For the first time in my memory, school for Wednesday was canceled at dinnertime on Tuesday -- so rather than the traditional wake-up-on-a-snowy-day-and-wait-to-hear-if-school-is-canceled routine, we were able to do the dance-of-joy before going to bed and, wonderfully, sleep in.

Ken's school (he works at a university) was also closed -- another very unusual and wonderful circumstance!
When we went out to shovel at about 10:30 a.m., we measured 14 inches of snow; by the end of the day, I'd say we had about 18 inches or so.
The winds didn't really howl, and the snow stayed relatively dry (light) for most of the storm, so we were mercifully spared any power outages, although internet connectivity was spotty. But hey, who needs the internet when there's snow to romp in?
We played, we drank hot cocoa, and we relished the quiet, white world.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Is there anything more important?

Watch Jamie Oliver's TED talk and see what you think. Be changed, and change the world.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Winter crafting

There's nothing like the combination of Christmas, and wintery weather, and new craft magazines to get my fingers itching to make stuff. This swan ornament is the first of what I hope will be many, made in the way-BEFORE-Christmas months so that I can at least get closer to my goal of a mostly handmade holiday. (I was going to give you, right here, the link to the Dec. 2010 Cotton Time magazine where this pattern appears, but I see that it's no longer in stock at -- a great source regardless for Japanese craft magazines.)

Yesterday's little guy is supposed to be a lamb; thanks for the guesses and seeing those helps me think about how to make it more lamb-y and less dog (or calf) like.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

This is a test

But it is a test of me, not of you. I am trying to figure out a pattern for a new little felt animal and am working at the moment on the profile. Finished product will be three dimensional with a head gusset and under-side piece so that it stands on 4 legs, etc.

BUT -- what kind of little animal is it looking like to you? I appreciate your candid responses, and I promise I will tell you what I'm trying to make.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

In a perfect world

Every time we have a first day back at school after a break of seemingly any size, I run into parents in the hallways who tell me how frazzled they are from all that time at home with their kids and how thrilled they are to have school start up again and to be back into the usual routine.

But for me, it's never long enough.
The two-week break went by in a blink. We all could have used another week or two or three or four. Dean's very happy to be back with friends, and loves school, but being home is always best.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Through rose-colored glasses

Only the happiest memories from 2010.

Piano recital
Several trips to the aquarium so that Dean could complete seahorse observations for a research report (although of course we visited all our favorite exhibits)...

Lunch out, just me and Dean. These opportunities have always been wonderful, but they became even more of a pleasure this year as we had new kinds of conversations -- more grown up, as I think about it. So this is all about embracing the changes as they come, and reveling in what is.

More time at the aquarium

and oysters for my birthday.

The welcomed return of green, growing things in New England, and the discovery in our own front yard
of a wonderful tree for climbing.

How exciting to wake up on a day that is BOTH Easter and your birthday!

Participating in a piano competition was a first (here's the warm-up before heading to the theater),
as was landing a major (singing!) role in the school play (he was the Caterpillar in Alice in Wonderland, and his *legs* had roles to play as well -- I was quite delighted with being able to design and execute a costume that worked!).
Soccer season got underway in earnest,

and he had his second school trip to The Farm School for the better part of a week.
Also a return to Dean's favorite fundraiser, his annual participation in the Walk for Paws.

We had a truly spectacular spring this year, and another lovely piano recital.


World Cup!Dean went on a hiking trip in New Hampshire with a group from school, and came back forever changed by the experience -- the goal of all great adventures, I believe.
Dean and I made a trip out to Chicago, where I joined a group of classmates from elementary school for an impromptu, casual reunion (my favorite kind); the ongoing contact with this group has been wonderful for me.
And we spent time with family -- my brother Chris, his daughter-in-law Erin, and our favorite first cousins (or something -- Chris' grandsons) Noah and Caleb.


A special wedding in New Hampshire -- our niece Hallie,

to her new husband Shaun. Couldn't have been a lovelier day, a more beautiful bride, a more perfect way to gather with extended family and friends.

We even got to see my other brother, Tony, and his wife Carol this year; Dean and I took them on a waterfall expedition to New Hampshire, and we
spent some time in Boston as well. Seeing this much of my family in one year is extraordinary, although my goal would be to make it standard procedure.

We celebrated Ken's birthday with mini-golf and
And took opportunities to see a Major League Soccer game as well as
Ovo, a traveling Cirque du Soliel extravaganza.

We did a pretty good job getting out into our local woods to hike and for Dean to have

lessons in stone-skipping (a skill fairly well mastered!).

Of course September always means back to school,

and this year it also meant a class expedition to the White Mountains in New Hampshire.

(a whole different look getting off the bus than there was getting on).

We hit LegoFest in Boston; not the most amazing event we've ever been to but really -- Legos -- what more does a boy need?

Although we could have used more rain during the summer, this review makes me appreciate how much gorgeous weather we had, and how our plans were really never hampered by weather -- kind of remarkable for New England. We spent a day in Newburyport, Massachusetts, to hook up with the newlyweds

Hallie and Shaun for a late lunch.

And of course the all-important selecting and carving of pumpkins, and the

annual Halloween Parade at school.

Oh, hurray for Disney World! Hurray for sunshine and theme parks and nothing else to do but decide what to ride next and whether or not to watch a parade.

Feeding the dolphins at SeaWorld.

(In case you were wondering why we keep going back there.)

I was the first guest to step foot in the Magic Kingdom on this particular day, and it filled me with joy -- an unreasonable amount, even -- to be there, to be that person, to have that moment.

Another opportunity to get together with family, and we learned on this day that Hallie and Shaun are expecting a baby next June!

We had ourselves a merry little Christmas!

And a fairly silly new year's eve, spent watching How to Train Your Dragon (highly recommended!),
and watching the ball drop in Times Square because we're Americans and it's what we do!

A toast, to realizing that you can always choose to look back and see only the good stuff and to looking ahead to what surely will be an even happier year.