Saturday, April 30, 2005

kitchen swap

This afternoon I held a Kitchen Swap at my house. I invited a lot of friends to bring anything from their kitchen that they no longer wanted, needed, or could use to my house. If someone else brought something that they wanted they could have it. Anything left over at the end of the day to go to our town library's Book and Barn Sale.

The gathering was a success. Several people couldn't attend but they dropped stuff off, happy to be able to purge their kitchens without guilt and without having to have a tag sale. Everyone who came had a great time "shopping". It was also a nice opportunity to sit and enjoy each other's company for a couple of hours.

We got a surprising range of things from an electronic wok to a juicer to fancy baking molds and much more. I personally got rid of a lot of stuff, including several cookbooks I no longer use, and in return picked up a set of skewers, two pretty candle holders, and a bud vase. I was very pleased that I restrained myself on several items because the purpose was to clean out not to accumulate more.

Now the back of the car is loaded up and tomorrow it's off to the library.

rainy day

I had meant to do some gardening this morning but the weather didn't cooperate. I confess that I am enough of a wuss that I don't like gardening in the rain. I've done it but today was not going to be the day.

Hopefully tomorrow the weather will be better and I can at least get out there and clean up the remnants of the grasses and clear out the last of the brown woody stuff.

Friday, April 29, 2005


It must be well into spring at this point. The spring peepers have gone from a gentle melody to a full-blown choir. Then this morning while out driving I saw my first woodchuck of the season; his plumply furry little body galumphing across a meadow. Lots of good eating I guess. They're so cute.

The grasses are definitely growing...time to start mowing.

And lots of weeding coming up. The deer fence has come down so now we'll need to start spraying Bobbex on the plants to try to protect them from invasion. Every year at this time I start wondering why we can't train deer, rabbits and woodchucks to eat the weeds instead of the flowers.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

destashing more

Stitch Sisters again tonight. There was a power outage at our normal meeting place so Martha offered her house. We all drove over there so sit in her cozy living room and craft together. It was wonderful.

While there I managed to destash even more!! I gave away a number of magazines, patterns, articles that I no longer wanted as well as several odds and ends of yarn that I know I will not be using anymore. Funny enough two of the yarns that I set free were exact matches for projects that others were working on. I love it when it works out that way.

I also managed to get a little more done on the hoodie. I really like the way this is coming out. I'm trying to be good and sew in the edges as I go so that it won't be so mind-numblingly boring when I am finished with the piece. I've started working on the body of it and am getting close to the neckline. I'm a little nervous about the shaping for that but we'll see when happens when I get there.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

whoop whoop whoop

Nothing like a few sirens going off and strobe lights flashing to start the adrenaline going. Especially when it happens in the middle of a yoga class! There we all were, stretching and bending and getting into that "yoga zone" when the alarm went off. And a rather odd sounding mechanical voice informed us that there had been an emergency detected in the building yada yada.

We gathered together all of our stuff and exited the building. Trying to decide if this was going to be resolved shortly or not as we walked to the front of the building and the parking lot. We decided to all go to Lara's house and finish the session in her yoga studio.

Just as we were all leaving the siren went off at the firehouse. Now I have to point out that in this itty bitty little town I live in the firehouse is literally a 30 second walk from the school. Not sure why it took a good 10 minutes for the alarm to go off but grateful that it wasn't when there were kids in the school.

Yoga was, as always, fabulous. Especially at Lara's house because the studio is much cozier than the huge multi-purpose auditorium that we use at the school. Not complaining mind you, I'm grateful that the school is open for public events after hours; it's just that the yoga studio is designed for yoga and so much more comfortable.

At the end tonight when we did our oms it was amazing. The space really resonates and so the sound filled my body and really vibrated all the way down to my toes. Awesome.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

garden notes

It was so lovely to come back from vacation and be greeted by the hints of green buds wisping through the landscape on the trees as well as the daffodils and flowering trees. My crabapples are about to bloom, the calary pears are in full bloom and some of the early rhododendrons are blooming.

When we left the buds were barely visible. One week later it's a startling change and one that is very welcome.

I've been out in the garden today and plan to get back out there again in just a little bit. Weeding, weeding, weeding. The grass, dandelions, ground ivy and bedstraw have certainly started to make their presence known. But I'm not complaining because I'm enjoying being out there and definitely enjoying the weather.

more knitting stuff

I'm still attempting to corral all of my unfinished objects (UFO in knitspeak) to figure out if any of them are going to be discarded or not. Now that I have actually taken several of them apart I feel somewhat liberated and willing to rip out others. I have to evaluate each one and decide. The object is to bring the list down to a manageable level of projects that I actually WANT to finish.

I am also in the process of organizing all of my papers and books. I've discovered that over the years I have printed a lot of patterns, scribbled notes, and collected freebies from the stores until I have a veritable storm of paper.

Thirdly I am reorganizing all of my knitting bags (too many to admit to here). I think I am going to have to bite the bullet and buy just one more box to store yarn in but then that's it seriously. I need to get this under control and organized. It does seriously mean that I shouldn't buy more yarn for quite a while however I have more than enough to happily keep me in knitting projects for at least a year (if not longer).


While on vacation I had the opportunity, finally, to catch up on some knitting. It started in New Jersey with a visit to my parents. My aunt was there as was my sister-in-law, brother and family.

Side note, I actually taught someone else how to knit! My sister-in-law has been wanting to learn. So I brought her some yarn, she and my mom went to a shop to buy needles and she is working on a scarf in a lovely blue colorway, mohair mix yarn. I'm amazed, she's a really good knitter for someone who is just learning. Her stitches were very even, not too tight, not too loose and well-spaced.

Another side note, my aunt was making a scarf for my mom and needed to bind off using something called the "Icelandic Bind Off." We asked at the knitting shop, my mom tried to Google it, to no avail. A wikipedia search reveals that it is a rather stretchy bind off. So now we know.

For my own knitting I decided to start a new project with existing yarn. I had some leftover acrylic purple and a purple-green varigation. I found a pattern in the latest copy of Family Circle Easy Knitting for a hooded beach coverup that looked really cute and decided to start it. I'm really enjoying making it, I love the way the colors go together and having the luxury of working on it uninterrupted while the kids were in the pool was great. Unfortunately the scanner isn't working at the moment but I'll try to fix that soon so that I can scan the resulting material and show it here. While some may scoff at the idea of a sweater in acrylic for a beachy or poolside coverup I think it's a better option. Plus it uses up the leftover.

I've finished one sleeve and started the body. One of the reasons I like the pattern is that it is worked from side to side so there is no joining of pieces, just two seams (well...three if you count adding in the hood). Unfortunately I'm realizing that there may not be enough yarn left to do the whole thing and I may need to go get more in the same colors. But since it's for an existing project that's not so bad. And I've decided to take all my "extras" and make squares with them. I figure if I keep doing that eventually I'll have an interesting assortment that I can put together into a blanket.


While on vacation, we went to visit my uncle in Florida [hi Uncle Steve!], we mostly hung around the pool and lazed on the lanai. Nothing really big but it sure recharged our batteries. We're normally so busy with our day-to-day lives and all of the running around and responsibilities that it was utter luxury to sleep late and enjoy the weather and relax.

The one touristy thing that we did was to go on a river boat cruise to see wildlife. We had hoped to see manatees but appparently their "season" ends in March so that didn't happen. We did however see lots of alligators, a number of different kinds of turtles, several species of birds, and lots of plants. One alligator was sunning itself on a log. As the boat moved closer the alligator didn't budge, not even to open its eyes. The Captain told us, "We call them tourist gators. They bask in the sun all day and go out to eat at night."

We learned a lot on the tour also. For example, the water was a brackish color. Apparently that means that there is both salt and fresh water present. And alligator nests are three degrees warmer at the top of the nest. The eggs that are on the top, the warmest ones, will become male alligators. That was kind of strange but interesting. We also learned that an alligator, at least in that area, is considered mature once it gets to about six feet in length.

The next time we go to Florida we'll have to take the tour again, maybe we'll get to see river otters or manatees.


While on vacation reading material is always a must. I didn't bring my primary reading book, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell (by Susanna Clarke) because it was too big and would have taken up too much room in my suitcase. I wish there had been room in the suitcase though. I am REALLY enjoying this book, thanks to Seth and Kim for the gift. It is very well written, very engaging and sort of an old-fashioned style of novel. The story is great. I just wish I had more time to read it. The only sad note is that I know it is one of those books that you hate to have end. When it is over I will be sad that there isn't any more to the story. I'm about three-quarters of the way through so there's still some story left to go.

For vacation I brought Food in History by Reay Tannahill. This was also a gift, thanks Joyce, and is a wonderful book. I like food and books about food (I'm one of those silly people that actually "reads" cook books), I like history (somewhat) and I find socio-eco-politico stuff to be interesting. This book has lots of information about why things are they way they are with food as we move through history. How some changes came into being, how certain things developed. It's really amazing. I'm learning so much and it's presented in an enjoyable way.

The third book that I am reading at the moment is Living It Up: America's Love Affair with Luxury by James B. Twitchell. What an interesting book (and subject). It clearly explains a lot about our current culture and how it is perceived by different groups and the net effect/impact of a consumer-driven society. It's not a light-and-fluffy look at the subject but neither does it present itself as a hard-line opinionated reflection of one viewpoint or another on the topic of consumerism.

I think I need more vacation so that I will have more reading time.

bias tape??

I have just recently learned about making your own bias tape. Although I know what bias tape is and I have even used it on occasion it never occurred to me to consider making my own.

At Sitch Sisters I was complaining about all of the strips that I am having to sew together to make this fabric purse....which I am getting more and more impatient to start on because I have been thinking about it so much.


Wendy mentioned that perhaps I should just make bias tape out of the fabric and then I wouldn't need to do all that sewing. I find out. *sigh* there are still quite a number of pieces to sew together, but at least I'll know for next time. And this piece of knowledge makes it much more likely that there will be a next time.

nature notes

This is actually a catch up post from before I went on vacation. One of the benefits of working where I do is that I have a corner window (three actually) that face the back woods behind our building. Lots of wildlife hangs out back there.

This past week has been a big week for crows. One day I managed to see a crow fighting with a snake. It was very interesting to see the crow pecking at the snake and then the snake trying to writhe away. Eventually the snake lost and the bird carried it off into a tree.

Another bird incident involved a rather audacious squirrel and two crows. I'm not sure what the squirrel stole from the crows but they were very upset about it. Cawing loudly and hopping up the rocks, flapping their wings while the squirrel dashed back and forth up the rocks into the safety of the undergrowth.

The crows seem to be out in force lately too. They've been perching on the roof line next to my window. They're huge; it's very interesting to watch them looking into the woods, peering side to side to see whatever it is that they see.

away for a while

Well folks, we've been away on vacation. It was spring break for the kids and we decided to get away for a few days to Florida where the weather was wonderful. We came back rested and ready to go for the rest of the school year [hah!]. I burn too easily and wore a lot of protective lotion. Even so I managed to get quite a bit of color; however I didn't come back my aunt calls it, "I beiged."

Now sit back and take a deep breath because there are lots of posts coming up, I'll try to keep them in some sort of order, but no real promises here.

Thursday, April 14, 2005


Tonight was Stitch Sisters; we had a really good gathering of 8. It was lovely to sit around, chatting, knitting, laughing together. What a wonderful group of ladies these friends of mine are, I so enjoy my Thursday nights with them.

I actually finished a project!!! Bluff is done!!!! I'm so happy. I think I'll leave Bluff and Bluffette up on the knit list for a little while so I can see that 100%.

And I made a momentous decision today. I'm unknitting a number of projects. These are projects that haven't gotten very far and have been languishing at the bottom of my closet woefully looking up at me each time I open the door. There's the elephant with LOTS of mistakes. I think I'll restart it because I do want to make one but it won't be this one. Then there's the
Ugly Slippers courtesy of Mariko...well, actually Nancy but Mariko is the one who posted the pattern. I started a pair. They are SOOOOO ugly (how ugly are they?) REEEAAAALLLLLY ugly. I have one-third of one slipper done and I don't even like the yarn anymore. It's gotta go.

I think it's kind of like reading books you don't like. I've gotten to the point in my life where if I don't like a book I don't finish it. I have barely any time to read as it is why should I spend my precious reading time reading something that is a struggle? I've decided to give myself permission to start on a new slate. Get rid of all the projects I don't want or know that I can't finish easily enough so that I can focus on those I do want to do. A new and pared down knit list if you will. Unfortunately this means even more of a yarn diet since I truly can't buy anymore yarn after I re-roll all this stuff and take up yet another bin stuffed into another closet where my husband, hopefully, doesn't see it. hmmmmm....maybe we need more closets.

self defense and yoga

Tonight the Girl Scouts had a self-defense class. Funny enough it was taught by my yoga teacher, Lara. She volunteered her time to help the girls. I know I've said it before but my family really is fortunate to live in a community where so many people give back.

There was a pretty good turnout by girls of all ages from a number of different troups in town. The girls learned a lot of good things in the class, D was giving us demonstrations and explanations after she got home -- she was very cute. Then the last half hour was yoga to help them relax and meditate which they all really liked as well. Perhaps some of them will start doing yoga on a regular basis, it could be fun to do yoga with my girls.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

grasses gone

Steve got out there over the weekend, forgot to post this...bear with me, and cut down all of the ornamental grasses. We have quite a few. Several have been moved and separated so I don't even know exactly how many we have at this point but there are at least a dozen that I can think of. They get very wheaty looking in the winter and then every spring he cuts them down with the chainsaw which does a great job. Now to get out there and clear up all the stalks. The new shoots should be appearing soon.

yarn diet update

How long is a yarn diet? I'm beginning to realize that not buying ANY yarn is harder than I thought. So far I have restrained myself and only bought for a gift. But I am tempted. I have a lot of lovely yarns that are waiting for projects -- some are determined some are not -- but entirely far more projects and yarn than time.

A lovely friend of mine, Cathy, just called and offered me some green cotton/silk blend she found in her closet that she doesn't want. I have decided to accept. Is this cheating on the diet? I'm not sure.

If you look at my knit chart you see I've made no substantial progress on any of the three active projects (I've decided to list only three at time). Not for any lack of wanting to you understand, just lack of time. I really do need to get my fanny in gear and finish Bluff though, since it goes with Bluffette which is done. But there are p-l-e-n-t-y more projects in the wings. Including my lovely knitted fabric purse. Almost done with those blasted stitchings for the strips. Next time I am definitely trying to knot it. It will probably change the overall look of the fabric/yarn but should be an interesting texture. I even have an idea that I will meld the next one with a color coordinating fun fur.

Hah! Listen to me. I haven't even started on the first one and already I have plans for the next. It's a sickness, really.


So bright and cheery, the daffodils are blooming in the garden. We have a number of different kinds, very pretty to see them all.

I cut a small bouquet and took it to work to put on my desk. A little spring inside as well as out.

Lots of other bulbs are making their way up through the ground. I find myself even more tempted to clean off the leaf mould but concerned that there might be another frost. I'll content myself with clearing out the rest of the vegetable garden and cleaning up the woody stuff in the perennial beds first.

I think it may be time to haul the huge pots of geraniums up from the basement.

Saturday, April 09, 2005


Tonight it felt almost more like summer than spring because we had kabobs for dinner. Beef and chicken with summer squash, peppers, onions and mushrooms. Yummmmmm. Delicious.

For dessert we had watermelon. The girls were a little disappointed that I had gotten a seedless one because they wanted to have a seed spitting contest. Next time. They decided instead to have a messiest eater contest. D won. Watching them I told them that Luciano Pavarotti had once said, "Watermelon, it a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face." I thought it was amusing, they looked at me like I had lost my mind. Oh well, what else is a mother for but to prove to her children that they are still sane.

garden glory

Today the weather was absolutely gorgeous. Warm, sunny, it definitely felt like spring. Outside without our jackets Steve and I worked in the vegetable garden. Clearing out all of the dead stuff, raking out the beds and getting them ready for this year's occupants. The boards around the raised beds still look good so I think we'll keep them for another year at least.

I'm so happy to be able to spend the time outside working in the yard. As I recently mentioned to a friend, I enjoy the solitude and the silence of working in the garden, communing with nature and enjoying the growing things. It is a necessary mental health thing when raising three teenage daughters. That and more than one shower.

Friday, April 08, 2005


Tonight D, a friend of hers and I went to see the local school production of "Bye Bye Birdie." It was very well done, the actors were enthusiastic and obviously enjoyed performing.

It brought back memories of when I was in High School and we did the same play. I was Edna, the Mayor's wife. The big scene for that role is to faint onstage which Conrad Birdie is singing.

The music is very enjoyable in that play, I sang along to almost all the songs...I had forgotten a few but then again it's been a long time.

Thursday, April 07, 2005


Totally kewl as they say. You can find anything on the internet, really. This is a site where someone has mapped out every single zip code in the United States and turned it into a zoomable map that shows you where it is. If you decide to visit make sure zoom is on as it is more fun this way.

Need ideas for zip codes to try? Here are some famous ones, 90210, 10026, 20500, 86023, 99705

Have fun.

stitch sisters

After Bingo I made a quick stop by Stitch Sisters. There was one lonely sister sitting there stitching, my friend Christina. D and I sat to chat with her for a moment before heading home. The choir, which had been practicing in the next room, stopped by on their way out and informed us that there had been another group of stitchers there earlier. Two of them to be exact. When Christina didn't show up right away they left. She got there late. We'll have to remind the others that there can be a gathering with as many or few of us as are present.

She's working on a beautiful baby blanket for a friend. It's a pattern that I would like to do so I guess it will have to be added *sigh* to the ever growing list.


It was Girl Scout Bingo night tonight. One of the troops in the district held a bingo function in order to raise food for the local food pantry. The cost of admission was two non-perishable items. The table for drop-offs was very full.

There were so many Moms and Scouts in attendance that there were not enough Bingo cards to go around.

Each card pack had 10 Bingo boards in it. The exitement in the room was a presence of it's own leading to a few false bingo calls. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves and applauded madly when someone won a prize.

One luck table right next to our had almost every person win a prize, I jokingly told them that I wanted to move to their table.

It was a great event for a good cause.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005


Beautiful, balmy, sunny degrees outside today. Almost enough to thaw the final remnants of winter from my bones.

I thoroughly enjoyed being outside and cleaning up more of the brush and woody stuff in the garden after work today. At this time of year I am always presented with a clear the leaf mould or not. Some years we still get frosts up until mid-May. At what point do I decide it's safe and rake it out of the beds. If I guess too late I have to pull it out by hand which is messier and takes longer. If I do it too early I run the risk of something dying in a late frost. For now I'm content to clean up all of the "sticks" and I'll think/deal with it later.

It was such a beautiful day outside that D and I even had time for a game of hopscotch. She beat the pants off me but it was fun to spend that time outside together. She was so cute in her triumph, ta DAH!

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

yoga yeehaa

Tuesday night and you all know what that! I cannot tell you how much I admire my yoga teacher, she's so amazing. She really works hard to structure each class to what we need. Today was a lot of stretching and bending/inverse stretching. Good for counteracting sitting slumped at a computer all week.

We also did some eyeball yoga today. Sounds weird I know but it's really good. Basically you stretch your eyeballs by moving them slowly clockwise and then counter clockwise. After doing this a couple of times you rub your hands together really fast to build up heat and friction. Then place your warmed hands over your eyes. It's amazing how much this relaxes them; I guess we don't realize how tired our eyes get sometimes until we stretch and warm them too.

dents de lion

Which is what I've been told it's called in French. Literally translated it means teeth of the lion; in English it's dandelion. And today I saw the first ones. Notice that was plural and not singular. Driving home from work there was a whole swath of them by the side of the road. Apparently the season has begun.

Monday, April 04, 2005

pampered princess

Yesterday was D's birthday. Her actual birthday and her party. We invited several friends over, I even had two friends, Christina and Rita, over to help -- and thank goodness I did because I couldn't have done this party by myself. The theme was pampered they did facials, nails, hair, vitamin water and cake, what more can you ask for?

The girls sat around and put on mud masks with my friends and I helping them since they had never done this before. It was very funny to watch them "hey poke my face, it's really stiff!" "Watch my face crack." Christina suggested that we put cucumber slices on their eyes so we sliced one up and handed it out. Then they got warm washclothes to soak on their faces before wiping off the mask. This was followed by toner and moisturizer. Not that any of these baby-faced beauties needed this stuff mind you, but it was fun!

A break for a "salon" lunch of friend mozzarella sticks and cake (it was from Costco, they make the BEST cakes, and filled with vanilla cheesecake, yummmmm) after which we held the grand present opening.

This was followed by nail polishing, hair decorating, and lip glossing. When the party was over each departing guest received a bar of soap that said princess, some colored bath confetti and a candy bar. I'm thinking this could be a good theme for grown-up girls too!

rain rain go away

This past weekend has been a downpour. The rivers are swollen, the creeks have overflowed their's a good thing we live on a hill. Driving into town the gas station has a pond in front of it and apparently residents along the river were warned to move to higher ground. I'm not sure how many inches we got but it was a lot.

The ground is all soft and muddy, of course, and the birdhouse poles have all tilted over. I'll have to wait till the ground firms up a bit and go reset them, hopefully no one has taken up residence yet so they will not be too disturbed.

And speaking of spring tasks I think it is time to take down the bird feeder. My husband pointed out this morning that we have very few birds visiting but our squirrel population is growing a lot. We have one awfully cute squirrel whose fur looks like s/he is part grey squirrel part black squirrel. D has decided that we should name it! I'll let them finish what's in the feeder and then not bother refilling it.

Friday, April 01, 2005


I just went to let the dog out for the last time this evening when I heard it...the definitive sound of spring. The peepers are out. Not full force yet, when their symphony of peeps becomes a loud chorus in the evening, but soft, gentle, steady peeping. I cannot tell you how happy that makes me because I know it means that spring is here.