Thursday, December 31, 2009

Life

"Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans." – John Lennon

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Singing

How Can I Keep from Singing (Bruce Springsteen/Pete Seeger variation)

My life flows on in endless song
Above earth's lamentation.
I hear the real, thought far off hymn
That hails the new creation
Above the tumult and the strife,
I hear the music ringing;
It sounds an echo in my soul
How can I keep from singing?

What through the tempest loudly roars,
I hear the truth, it liveth.
What through the darkness round me close,
Songs in the night it giveth.
No storm can shake my inmost calm
While to that rock I'm clinging.
Since love is lord of Heaven and earth
How can I keep from singing?

When tyrants tremble, sick with fear,
And hear their death-knell ringing,
When friends rejoice both far and near,
How can I keep from singing?
In prison cell and dungeon vile
Our thoughts to them are winging.
When friends by shame are undefiled,
How can I keep from singing?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Table Runner

Sometimes the hardest part of a project is not...being...able...to...talk...about...it. I'm glad this reached my friend for her birthday today.


[I like this composite image, made from 2 photos, even though it distorts the rectangular shape of the runner.]

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Crescent Rolls

Originally I intended only to email this photo to E who is on a business trip and missing homemade cooking (sorry, Love). But this recipe is too good not to share.

Today I am making rolls for Thanksgiving. The last time E and I hosted Thanksgiving was 9 years ago - there were only six of us but I ate like it was the end of the world as I was 40 weeks pregnant and couldn't have cared less about an extra pound or two. [it really was the end of the world, as I knew it, anyway.]

Cooking for 16 this year will be a learning experience and I'm determined to make it easy. While I'm a bit nervous about the turkey, I can bake bread in my sleep and I'm happy to have an excuse to make my long-time favorite roll recipe. These can be made small or large. They are perfect with jam or sliced for sandwiches.

Basic Yeast Dough / Crescent Rolls (adapted from Southern Living)

Ingredients
1 package yeast, active dry
1 cup water warm (105-115 degrees)
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
1 each egg
1/2 teaspoon salt
3+ cups flour, all-purpose flour

Dissolve yeast in warm water in a large mixing bowl; let stand 5 minutes. Add sugar, shortening, egg, salt, and half of flour; beat at low speed of an electric mixer until smooth. Gradually stir in enough remaining flour to make a soft dough. Place dough in a well-greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85 degrees), free from drafts, 1 hour or until doubled in bulk, or cover and refrigerate up to 5 days. [note: my experience is that refrigeration is best. The dough is less sticky and dividing the task keeps it from taking most of your day]

(If refrigerated, let return to room temperature before proceeding.)

Punch dough down; turn out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead 4 or 5 times. Divide dough into two balls. Roll each to a 12-inch diameter circle, rub with softened butter, cut into 12 wedges, and roll each tightly, sealing points underneath each roll. Cover and let rise until doubled. Then bake for 375 degrees for 12 minutes.

Try not to eat immediately but wrap well and freeze until Thanksgiving.

[I took this picture of Sam at the same time as the rolls...is it just me or doesn't he look like a roll himself?]



Wednesday, October 28, 2009

St. Theresa's Textile Trove

I received a sad email just now - St. Theresa's Textile Trove is closing. I've written before about what a treasure the store is - funky fabric, Japanese fabric, African fabric, Balinese fabric, Aboriginal fabric, batiks. And then there are buttons. And beads, feathers, bones and anything else you might want to sew with.

I first read about the Trove in Kaye England's book, Quilt Inspirations from Africa. Although their fabric is available online, I read about how folks drove an entire day as a sort of pilgrimage to the store. They said there was no place like it. So on a cold February day I played hooky, packed up the kids, and we drove to Cincinnati. After browsing like mad, we ate lunch in a smokey bar adjacent to the store. I couldn't care less - I had amazing fabric for a new quilt. The quilt for my Japanese quilt also came from there.

The fabric stores of my childhood are gone. I am sorry to see St. Theresa's go as I can think of no other resource nationally in its niche. St. T's is not crafty or cute. It is an art quilter's paradise and I need to think about fitting in a trip soon.

If you are interested, here is the hours and sale information offered in the email:

Now through Nov 14: 30% off
Nov 17 - Dec 15: 40% off
Dec 16 - Dec 23 (closed Dec 24 and 25): 50% off
Dec 26- Jan 31 (closed Dec 31 and Jan 1): 60% off

Now that the days are getting darker earlier, our new (and final) store hours will be 11am-5pm, Tuesday-Saturday, effective Tuesday, November 3. We will still be closed on Sundays and Mondays.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Sewing a Book Cover

I've been feeding the sewing muse lately. Reading the new Stitch magazine. Playing with shapes (like the enlarged garden patch coasters below). Proceeding to sandwich my Japanese quilt. Staring sessions with my Butler brown-blue squares and then sewing them into different configurations (will they make a quilt? a table runner? a bag?). I want to learn more about free motion, adding dimension to items, and dyeing my own fabric. Some weeks I'm pressed for time and just want to feel fabric in my fingers. And it's true--the stash starts talking to you if you leave it alone for too long.


Last night my play turned into something. I started out making a birthday card and ended up with a book cover (I'm sure the recipient will be much happier!). It was so easy that I did it without a pattern or instructions. It took under an hour which is a happy thing for quick-gratification-loving me.

Here's how:

1. Take a blank book and lay it flat over a piece of fabric. I used a piece I had previously quilted. Cut fabric around book adding a 3/4 inch margin. This is for the book cover.


[here's the front of my quilted fabric cover]


2. Cut another piece of fabric at the same size. This is for the lining.


3. Cut two pieces for the flaps. They should be the same height as the cover and lining. Fold each over so they're two-ply. See how they look when placed.


4. Make a sandwich: first the cover, then the two flaps (folded in half so the right side of the fabric shows), and then the lining. Right sides together for the cover and lining.


5. Sew all around it, leaving a 4-inch opening. I used a quarter-inch stitch.

6. Remove pins and pull right sides out. Poke out corners.


7. Top stitch, catching the open part. I also zig-zagged the perimeter to match the free-motion, sketchy stitching I did on the quilted cover.


8. Ta-da. It's done. Doing this makes me think of other applications–maybe a checkbook cover, billfold or photo album.

Small Thing of the Day

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Foodies and Fabric

I generally don't watch tv but I've gotten hooked on two tv programs that I tape and watch during lunch. One is Diary of a Foodie (I'm crossing my fingers and hoping the now-defunct Gourmet doesn't ax the show). It is produced extremely well. Each episode is a sensory delight showcasing travel, people, ideas and techniques. My leftovers pale in comparison to whatever they're showing but then, I'm generally so absorbed in the show I'm hardly aware of what I'm eating. All episodes can be downloaded for free online. This grilled cheese recipe was amazing. Seeing Ruth Reichl is also fun since I loved her three memoirs.

The other show is Quilting Arts TV. I've purchased the magazine a few times but really dig the show. Each episode is equal parts inspiration and technique, showing me how to apply often-innovative methods step-by-step. Apparently individuals can create a login and view episodes online but QA seems to have issues with their site (there's a lot of resources online but they're hard to find and the login doesn't seem to work). Anyhow, the show is great and it would be appealing to both artists and crafters. The episode I watched today featured Jamie Fingal's "Heavy Metal Aprons" and Julie Fei-Fan Balzer's scrappy, quilted scarves (omg, look at this.)

After watching either show, it's no wonder I have a hard time jumping back into work. I do need to fit in some sewing time--I've been dreaming at night about fabric stores.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Readings...

Currently Reading:
Housekeeping (Marilynn Robinson)
The Informant (Kurt Eichenwald)

[both are engrossing and hard to put down so you can imagine I'm not getting much done...]

Read Recently:
Black Boy (Richard Wright)
Wise Blood (Flannery O'Connor)
Franny and Zooey (J.D. Salinger)
The Sparrow (Mary Doria Russell)

[Housekeeping and the Wright, Salinger and Flannery O'Connor are on the reading list for a Open Yale course which is FREE online...I am making my way through the sessions slowly but surely]

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Different Hotel ZeeZoy

Summer has quickly slipped away and my little boy seems to be, too. He's growing taller. His face is fuller. He tells me things like, "I want to do this by myself and that means you go away." Before it's too late, I want to remember who he is in this time.

Favorite words and phrases:
Grown-uppy - acting like or being a grownup; as in "I will be a fireman when I am grownuppy."
Boobay - a word expressing 4-year-old frustration; as in "You are a boobay and I will not clean my room."
Beet-an-boss - unknown meaning and can substitute for several words (it is fun to say)
Favorite imaginary - second favorite; as in "My favorite color is red. My imaginary favorite color is blue."
When I am a fireman - during the summer Matt told us dozens of times each day what life will be like when he grows up and becomes a fireman. They were generally glorious, wonderful things. He also wanted to make sure I would bring food to the firehouse and we played a game called "Mom, please tell me what food you'll bring me when I am a fireman." Mac and cheese was first in the list.

Favorite friends:
Donny - Donny joined our family in the spring; Matt said he is 5. His father is a postman. So we've learned.
DeeDoy - DeeDoy arrived this summer. Once Matt said in the car, "Look! DeeDoy is out the window!" We all looked.
ZeeZoy - ZeeZoy, or "Different Hotel ZeeZoy," showed up at the hotel we stayed in during the canoe race. They apparently met by the garage elevator.
The Son - Matt calls his favorite stuffed animal his "son." His son is a green mouse with a purple anorak and striped shorts.

Favorite book:
Monkey with a Tool Belt - Judging from the library's copy, this is one popular book. Matt told his teacher he was wearing a tool belt, just like Chico Bon Bon, the monkey.

Friday, October 2, 2009

A Happy Birthday

That it will never come again is what makes life so
sweet.
- Emily Dickinson

I awoke to find a ruptured water header but no mind, it was still a lovely day. E stayed home with the plumber, making a cake, while I biked 36 miles under a cool October sky. Tuna melt and homemade potato soup for lunch and then curling up with a novel (before a nap). No work. No computer. No kids. And two large pieces of yummy carrot cake.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Hawk

Just as Sarah and I were about to sit down for lunch today, we saw a hawk with the same idea. He was on the swing set, 60 feet from the kitchen window. E's good lens allowed us to not only capture the moment but see his magnificent body in more detail. If you click the image, you'll view a 1000-pixel version.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

King Tut and the Honey Farm

©2009 - Sandro Vannini (photo courtesy of National Geographic)

Now Matt is out of diapers, the choices for weekend fun seem endless. In the last 4 weeks we've visited: Eagle Creek Park for canoeing, a street art fair, an unusually cool farmer's market and the circus. On Friday night Sarah and I attended the celebrated King Tut exhibit (much thanks for the tickets, Stacy!). On Saturday, the kids and I took in a fall festival at a local honey farm.

Tut was more interesting than I expected. I'm not a huge Egyptian history buff but seeing the artifacts in person was dramatic. The gold and inlaid artistry was amazingly beautiful. What I appreciated most about the exhibit was how simple it was organized. It was easy to read all boards and the information was both fascinating to me, as an adult, and attainable by Sarah (age 8). While I loved the hands-on opportunity to educate Sarah about the ancient culture, she seemed most absorbed in the "spooky" aspect. Recipients of a special pass, we viewed the exhibit after the museum closed. This was very exciting to a child who's seen Night at the Museum too many times. However, she didn't seem disappointed that a mummy didn't chase us back to the parking lot.

Getting to Hunter's Honey Farm was half the fun. The trees were starting to turn and we saw a lot of them––we essentially had an hour's worth of back, snaky, hilly country roads to reach the Farm's annual Festival. It was worth it though. The farm owner (a teacher/beekeeper who is the son of a teacher/beekeeper who was the son of a teacher/beekeeper) first gave us a very informative demonstration of the hive. The 30-minute bottling tour was also fascinating. We saw honey removed from the hive, clarified, and packed for distribution. I often bake with honey and was disappointed to learn that baking depletes all nutritional benefits BUT I learned about additional by-products like pollen and tincture which we may try some time. [Pollen has 96 nutrients and is the most "perfect" food; it has more antioxidants than any other food.]

At the Honey Farm, Sarah and I remarked how different the Tut trip was from the trip to rural Martinsville. What a funny coincidence though––5 minutes after we said this, the Honey Farm tour guide said, "Anyone heard of King Tut?" He proceeded to tell us how honey never spoils and how archaeologists discovered edible honey in his tomb. Go figure.


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Little People

Our house is into "little people" lately. Matt can't get enough of his Fisher Price Little People. Once I showed him the Playmobil and Lego websites. Now he thinks my laptop exists for the purpose of showing him "the sets." Good thing his imagination is more abundant than my pocketbook and he also loves using blocks and cardboard boxes with his Little People.

Sarah's imagination has been stirred lately with The Borrowers. We've been reading it together. The vocabulary is more expansive than I remembered, the characters more complex. The story must be in Sarah's head a lot as she's always pointing out small household items that would work well for Pod, Homily and Arrietty. [Does anyone remember the British film version from the 1970s?]

Little people books would not be complete without mention of Mary and the Mouse, a charm of a book we discovered this year (from the words to the illustrations it's total candy) and Beatrix Potter's Tale of Two Bad Mice. The latter was a childhood gift from special family friends. I loved that book although I remember being absolutely horrified when the mice broke items in the dollhouse. I need to find it soon and read it again to both kids.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Apple-Oatmeal Crumb Cake

I have two notebooks overflowing with recipes collected over 30 years. The thing is, I ignore many of them––I seem to stick to my favorites. Here's one we tried recently. I cut it from Cooking Light years ago. The recipe makes a small cake––good for a day or two of snacking before moving on to another new-old recipe.

Apple-Oatmeal Crumb Cake

Ingredients
1 c. all-purpose flour
1/3 c. regular oats
1/3 c. granulated sugar
1/3 c. packed dark brown sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 c. chilled stick margarine or butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/3 c. apple juice
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 large egg (or egg substitute)
1 1/2 c. coarsely chopped peeled McIntosh apple (about 2 apples)
Cooking spray

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350º.

2. Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup, and level with a knife. Combine the flour and next 5 ingredients (flour through nutmeg) in a bowl, and cut in the margarine with a pastry blender or 2 knives until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Reserve 1/2 cup flour mixture for topping; set aside.

3. Combine the remaining flour mixture, baking powder, and baking soda, and add the apple juice, vanilla extract, and egg. Beat the mixture at medium speed of a mixer until blended, and fold in the chopped apple.

4. Spoon the batter into an 8-inch round cake pan coated with cooking spray, and sprinkle the reserved 1/2 cup flour mixture over the batter. Bake at 350º for 30 minutes or until cake springs back when touched lightly in center. Cool the cake on a wire rack.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Abraham Lincoln

I have a weakness for children's books with pencil illustrations. Since my own childhood, I've adored the work of Garth Williams and Lois Lenski. Last year Sarah and I enjoyed discovering the books of Wanda Gág and learning about her life. This summer, while at the Abraham Lincoln Museum in IL, we discovered the partnership of Ingri and Edgar Parin d'Aulaire. Right now we are reading their book on Abraham Lincoln. The pencil drawings are fascinating and approachable and the book, which focuses on Lincoln's childhood and personality, would appeal to children age 4 and up. We are looking for more by these authors.

And, Happy International Literacy Day!

Monday, August 31, 2009

For $ale – Used Jogger

It’s the end of an era and I can’t stop thinking about it. No, it’s not the end of summer or Sarah in 3rd grade or even Matt starting full-time preschool. It’s the baby jogger––I am selling it.

The jogger has gathered a few cobwebs this summer but thoughts of an impending sale have me out running with Matt. Pushing a wiggling 4 ½ year old boy is akin to running with a shopping cart (with the milk hopping around). But, while others may be nostalgic about baby clothes or cribs, I’ve realized I am sentimental about running with my children.

A friend once told me my children will have memories of being “whooshed” through their world. She told me this on a February walk with the kids. I don’t remember which child was in the jogger but I remember the snow was slushy.

The story of the jogger really feels like my story of motherhood. It was nearly nine years ago when I zipped 5-week-old Sarah into a snowsuit to run with me. It’d been a difficult birth but I was eager to get back to my design business and running. We both found joy in seeing the creek, bridges, birds, trees, and more in our neighborhood park. A bushy-tailed Sam always ran to the left of the jogger. On Saturdays we three ran with a running club. There was another new mom running with a jogger as well as two other golden retrievers. Life was good in Rolling Meadows, IL.

We then moved to Indianapolis, IN. The roads got bumpy for a while––I lost a friend and my father. I put my business on ice to work 3 days/week in an office. Sarah went in daycare and I ran early in the morning, in the dark, by myself. It took a while for life to even out. It took years before I discovered good routes for running. And just about when Sarah learned to ride her bike beside me on runs, there was 5-week-old Matt. For a long while there were 4 of us––Sarah on the bike, Sam to my left, and Matt in the jogger. I felt like Cecil B. DeMille directing way too many extras but we all had fun and it definitely was good exercise.

Now Sam’s eleven years old, too arthritic to run. Sarah’s way fast on her bike and I expect Matt to be on two wheels soon, too. What can I say? I have Empty Jogger Syndrome.

Like my work, the jogger has been my way to get out the house and join the world. I’ve wanted my children to see that grit and determination don’t have to stop when motherhood starts. I hope they are the kind of people who fight their way up hills––mentally, spiritually and physically––all through their lives. I hope we are always able to run together as a family.

There are not so sentimental aspects to the jogger, too. My doctor says I weigh the exact same as I did before I became pregnant with Sarah. [hmm…tell me why then have I outgrown my first running shorts?].

The jogger won’t fetch much cash, perhaps just enough for a running shirt or two. What else do I need? I have my memories.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Back to School

This school year seems to have started without our consent. Between a reunion, family visits, and the mr340, we've been gone much of the last month. Where did the summer go? And, can this be the same girl? Third grade here we come, ready or not.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Lewis and Clark: I

In Erik's family, "vacation" is synonymous with "adventure." And, the bigger the adventure, the better the yarn.

I should've known it would be that way with Erik. This year our adventure is Erik's participation in the MR340 River Race. In short, he and his best friend (from first grade) will be in a canoe for 4 days and 3 nights, racing from Kansas City to St. Louis on the Missouri River. For 340 miles. We will have yarns, for sure.

This summer race preparation has been a big activity in our house. Unlike many racers, Erik and his friend aren't canoeing hobbyists. Except for a Miller Lite canoe won in a bar 15 years ago, neither had any gear (or knowledge, I'll add). There were practice trips, books to read, the brains of outdoor enthusiasts to tap, and, of course, money to be spent. The kids screamed with delight when a shiny new canoe showed up in the garage.

Around June I was sucked into the mix. Back in January when I thought the whole thing would fall through, I'd agreed to be the boys' support crew. Now I had to put my project management skills to a real-life test. I dug my heels into schedules, topographical maps, and meal planning (with all the constraints of life lived out of a mini-van). Soon I will get friendly with a GPS.

The boys' goal is to finish on time. My goal is to successfully feed, hydrate, clothe, and medicate the crew. We all hope to survive the demands of the week while having a lot of fun.

We are down to days now. When we get down to hours, I'll start filling the car. Now that Erik has a new craft he doesn't want to lose down the river, he's concentrating on knots. Watching him last night, I was struck with the beauty of his hands turning the rope over and under. I laughed - it looked just like hand quilting or knitting! Pattern in one hand and rope in another, I realized Erik has discovered his handicraft! It was impressive and (I dare say) sexy. I'm wondering if there's a market on etsy for pre-made knots...

We may be obsessing but we've also revisited the journals of Lewis and Clark. Last night Sarah watched the Ken Burns documentary with us. For all she knows Dad is precisely revisiting the historical trip, complete with run-ins with the Teton-Sioux.

Maybe there won't be Native Americans, but there will be mosquitoes and who knows what else. Oh, I know what else - a BIG family story.


Monday, July 13, 2009

4H 2009

We're having a very good summer. I'm keeping things as simple as possible. Most days the kids play from sunup to sundown. Most days I'm working in my home office. We meet up to play in the backyard, take walks, read together, and eat snacks. Everyone is happy.

The summer has gone fast. This morning we bought school supplies for Sarah who is leaving for her grandmother's soon and won't be back until school starts on August 11.

It may feel weird to fill her backpack in July but it does feel like Fair time. The kids have grown so much since last year. Sarah finished her two 4H projects this afternoon. For Clothing, she is exhibiting a pillow. Since she did Level 1 last year, she was Level 2 this year. I'll vouch that teaching machine sewing is easier than teaching hand stitches. The pillow was a breeze.


The Foods entry was surprisingly harder. She chose to make breakfast cookies. It took an HOUR AND A HALF to mix them (my Type-A self nearly had an aneurysm). They taste delicious though. All of us are now counting down to the Fair. I think next year I'll do a pie––I still can't bring myself to part with one!



Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

I confess to having a bit of a sweet tooth this summer. For better or worse, I'm sure I've eaten my weight in cookies and pies.

I've had this recipe for years but it's lately grown into a family favorite. They're hearty and sweet but not overwhelmingly so. I like to make them large so they fit perfectly in the palm of my hand.

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

INGREDIENTS:
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons baking cocoa
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup butter
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup rolled oats [sometimes I used old-fashioned, sometimes quick]
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
[note: double everything above, you'll love them!]

INSTRUCTIONS:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. In a large bowl, combine butter and sugars with mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla.

Stir in flour mixture and mix well. Stir in oats and chocolate chips. Drop by tablespoon onto baking sheet, leaving 2 inches between cookies. Bake for 12 minutes or until very lightly browned.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Japanese Quilt Piecing - DONE!

Here's the new quilt top. The Japanese fabric was a real treat––besides the vibrant color and subtle designs, the different prints have different weights and textures. Some are loose or nubby or striated. It seems to work for me to choose fabric in a hurry. I bought this grouping in Cincy in August on vacation with the kids (Erik will tell you we were in the store all day but in my memory it was more like 3 minutes!). The Bento Box pattern is so gratifying and flexible I can see why it's so popular. Mine is the wall size which was would be great for a gift although I'm not sure I can let go of this one.

Next I need to finish piecing the bed quilt. There's another quilt percolating and of course I need to quilt the Japanese quilt...

Friday, May 29, 2009

Chalk on the Walk

Our summer officially starts with Chalk on the Walk at the local library. We first gorge ourselves on reading material and then the kids draw madly on the sidewalk. And drink lemonade.

During check out, I was elated. I kept thinking, not even a $1000 Nordstrom gift certificate would make me this happy. All this reading––for free! And I can come back for more!

I'm in a reading phase right now and just finished Running After Antelope. I sucked it down in two days (witty, smart, dry humor, bizarre human portraits). Carrier is a long-time NPR and This American Life contributor. The book make me laugh out loud several times (this takes skill). Stay tuned for more book recommendations.

It's been a quieter week for me. Memorial Weekend was bliss––literally one day I gardened, one day I cycled in the country, and one day I sewed. Absolutely no computer, phones, lists, lines, driving, bill-paying, cleaning, work. I don't know the last YEAR I got to do something (let alone 3 things) for HOURS at a time without having to stop and switch to some sort of other task. I did finish the Japanese quilt top and love it but haven't yet photographed it. I also made traction on the other quilt in progress but as I'm not crazy about it and am considering using the blocks for bags to sell (it DOES look great in the bedroom, though).

My sugar-deprived children think the lemonade is divine!
Both kids were into drawing treehouses as we watched the Swiss Family Robinson last week.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Meet Alfonso

On ONE occasion, I told Matt a story about "Hugo the Frog." He was sitting on the toilet (Matt, not Hugo) and I was desperate to keep him there. Frankly I don't remember much about the life of Hugo but Matt has asked a hundred times since about Hugo's livelihood and current status.

Saturday we met Alfonso the Toad. Apparently he is Hugo's cousin. Alfonso has chosen a cool and discriminating location under our Henry Lauder Walking Stick tree. Aloof as he is, he allowed Sarah's squealing and stroking. He seemed to enjoy Matt's tickling him with a leaf. He felt soft through my gardening gloves (I had to repeatedly take him home as Sarah kept abducting him).

It felt fitting to finish up our Beatrix Potter Treasury tonight with the story of Jeremy Fisher. I hope you don't lose your galoshes, tonight, Mr. Alfonso.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

What We're Reading...

Me: Where the Pavement Ends: One Woman's Bicycle Trip Through Mongolia, China & Vietnam (this is a good read, much living vicariously on my part)

E: Complete Book of Knots; Introduction to Paddling; Essentials of River Kayaking (do you see a trend? E is paddling across Missouri this summer)

Me + Kids: Welcome to Kaya's World, 1764: Growing up in a Native American Homeland (we've read all the others in the series and I cannot recommend them enough); James Herriot's Treasury for Children (we've been watching the tv series and reading the books...the kids have been playing "vet"); Giant Treasury of Peter Rabbit (Matt's eyes were wide as we read about Peter last night...Matt's been taking care of pretend rabbits lately and so it was good timing)

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Iris

The older I get, the more I hold dear objects I received from friends. The heavy white ceramic mixing bowl I received as a wedding present from my parents' neighbors, Dave and Beth. The teeny blue French medicine bottle from Amy. The fish plate from Marcia. The shapely blue vase from Suzanne. The thick afghan from Beckie. The kerosene candle from Claire. The Anne Sexton book from Maryfrances. The Debra Wald teacup from Jamie. I could make a long list... The objects are marked with a 13-year marriage of memories as well as memories with that friend.

I feel the same way about plants from friends. In Chicago, neighbors and I traded plants regularly. It doesn't seem to happen here very often. This morning I was delighted to see this iris open. It's from my friend Jen who shared some bulbs with me last year. I need to drive and see her flowers blooming, as well. 

Sunday, May 3, 2009

A Big "Mini" (Go Daddy!)


Congrats to my husband who ran his first half marathon yesterday with an 8:43 average mile!

Hand Riding

This is the writing on the hand that gripped the handlebars of the bike going south then west bumping over train tracks and gliding by mansions, running streams, leafy woods, inky black cows chewing at the fence, lurching up hills, zipping past a family reunion taking a group photo in front of a red barn at a historic farm next to more farms and even more farmland down to a vineyard which was kinda close to a road (marked on the hand) that was supposed to turn into another road but didn't to end up by houses with POW flags and rusty grain elevators and shiny fire engines and a big man who shook his head (and probably rolled his eyes) and penciled directions leading east past the flea market and the old school and then north up to the pond with the boat and pulley where I knew where I was and sighed and decided to toss the directions and get lost again east past tractors and sodden fields under undecided grayness and flowing with juicy legs finishing the 26 miles at home with a peanut butter sandwich.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Quote

"One of the greatest discoveries a man makes, one of his great surprises, is to find he can do what he was afraid he couldn't do."

- Henry Ford

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Little Quilts

I am not very good at "playing around" as an artist. Maybe it's the time of my life––work, husband, kids, house, exercise––I'm torn in different directions. When I do create something, I want it to amount to something.

I am aware, however, that always planning out a project directs me away from the "happy accident." And that, of course, is where artists grow (and have the most fun!).

Today I gave myself some "play" time. I've been wanting to sew on paper. These are on Strathmore card stock (4 x 6). It only took a few scraps of fabric.

Sewing on paper was trickier than I expected. The fabric flowed over the stiff paper making tension work differently. The needle made a funny snapping noise on the paper. I had to be aware of not overworking areas and making holes.

This would be fun to try with kids or anyone with little sewing experience.
I want to do more with layering.

This one (above) may be my favorite.
This looks like the larger quilt I've got on the back burner.
Even a simple design can have a lot of energy.