Thursday, August 30, 2007


I did something today I've never done before. I joined the church choir. I was surprised at being asked to join because I am haunted by the memory of 5th grade choir when I was politely told that I was tone deaf and perhaps I would prefer orchestra. So although I sing I do so fairly quietly and hope no one notices. Later in life I was told that I was a combination of alto and mezzo but with only half a range, useless as far as the other person was concerned.

Well guess what!!! It doesn't matter. Not only did I have a whole lot of fun, the choir master put me in the alto section and seems to think I sing pretty well. I was able to not only stay in key but to keep my descant going properly with the melody and the drone going at the same time. Wow! I'm so excited about this, what a wonderful activity for me and a way to participate more in my church, I like that.

produce update

Went to the farm this week and got my usual haul of goodies. We are sure enjoying all this fresh food. Luckily this week we were able to again "help ourselves" to saucing tomatoes. I love this!! I took 15 pounds home with me in addition to the bag of corn, the bag of veggies and the basket of tomatoes, herbs and flowers. How fortunate we are to have access to this farm.

I took the 12 ears of corn and parboiled them, cut them off the cob and froze the kernels to use in the winter.

Cooked another batch of beets but left this one out to be eaten since D has discovered that she likes beets.

Made 3 quarts of tomato juice (the best tomato juice you will ever drink if I do say so myself) and 8 pints of barbeque sauce. The sauce tastes a little sweet for my taste but then again it's not meant to be eaten by itself straight out of the pot. If I make the recipe again I think I will also add more garlic as I didn't think there was quite enough.

Canning can be hard, hot sweaty work but we are always grateful for what we have once the canning season is over. As I was making the sauce and the juice I was reflecting on how very grateful I am to not have to feed my entire family with the results of my labors. If I had to grow all the food and then process it to ensure we had enough to eat I'm afraid we might starve. Although I produce enough for us to enjoy for the year and a little to give away as gifts I certainly do not produce enough to be our sole source.

My Mom has her business Creek Road Crafts and has at this point in the season made, I think, 300 jars of preserves. That's a lot of preserves.

Bottom line is that I am grateful for the produce, the knowledge and the skill to keep this "craft" alive. And also grateful that I can do it because I WANT to and not because I HAVE to.


This is a creative and very organized Mom. Of course I don't think college kids want you making book covers much less those that match their book bag and I KNOW that 8th graders don't. But it's still very sweet.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

grains of gratitude

Started by Christine. It's been a while since I've posted one of these.

Today I am grateful for:

A wonderful sermon at church and a great coffee hour afterwards. Funny moment, I met my 9th grade math teacher there! That was a blast from the past. Even funnier was introducing D to him -- she thought that was just too weird.

A good walk with Tobi. He loved getting out and even got to see his friend Colby who lives down the street. I got in a walk before it rained.

A lovely harvest of blackberries and raspberries from my garden. So delicious.

Quiet time spent with S this evening. I'm going to miss her once she heads back to college.

AC - it has been hot and humid the last few days and I am so grateful to be able to sleep in cool comfort -- which is where I am headed now.

free camera

See that cute child? What about the adorable puppy? How would you like to be able to take pictures like that? guarantee that you can but DevDad is giving away a free camera and some accounts to, allowing you to try to take such wonderful photos. Mike is a SAHD (Stay at Home Dad) who works from home to be able to raise his daughter Alex. I apologize for the borrowing of the photo but it was the only way to illustrate the point -- hope that's okay.

Of course this post is a shameless plug, who wouldn't want to win a free camera, not to mention one of those power user accounts? If you say it's not you I won't question that statement, better odds for me.

As for the rubber duckies Mike? I vote you write everyone's name on a duck, dump them in the tub with your adorable Alex and whichever one she picks is the winner. It would help if the duckie's name started with an M and ended with an A but I'm sure she can figure that out with a little help from you.

new toy


Isn't that cool?

h/t to Ima on (and off) the bima for this link. Build one yourself at Spell with Flickr.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

saturday special

Oooh, another meme....

This one is The Saturday Special which I found via Ask Laane.

1. Quiet evening at home or Out on the town?:
Quiet evening at home...I don't have the energy for a night on the town these days.

2. Watch a movie or Reading a good book?:
Can I pick both? Depends mostly on my mood but I will confess to a preference for books.

3. Order a meal or Cooking one yourself?:
I love to cook.

4. Going for a walk or Taking a ride in the car?:
Walking is a great form of exercise and something that I like to do, especially if there is nice scenery involved.

How about you?

catching up

One thing about being away is the backlog at home. I'm still catching up on podcasts and blogfeeds. It's great because I get a huge feed at once and bad because I get a huge feed at once LOL.

I'm also once again pruning through, trying to bring my blog reads down from the 176 currently on my list. Oh my goodness is that hard. I like them all for different reasons. Part of the problem is that I keep adding new ones! I love these little communities that form through blogging, if only I could read faster.

Friday, August 24, 2007

cool calendar

h/t to Lifehacker

for sharing this link to make dodecahedron calendars.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

wmfw - project notebooks

I just handed off a notebook to a friend of mine who has young children. It was from when my children were young and we don't need it anymore. In it I kept all sorts of ideas for games, projects, craft ideas, snack recipes, anything to do with the kids. A lot of those ideas became family favorites like how to make a mini-journal out of one slip of cut/folded paper or how to make origami animals. But now she can use it and I'm on to making other notebooks.

As adolescents my kids aren't that into projects with mom but I have some ideas for when they do want to do stuff together. Fun crafts, interesting projects, little games, they're all in there, just geared toward bigger kids.

I have a project notebook full of decorating ideas for the house and future houses. I go through it regularly and reshape it room-by-room to keep the ideas flowing and to see where my 'home thoughts' lie.

I also keep a separate notebook with the girls awards and certificates and clippings from the newspaper. I'm not one of those moms who keeps a lot. School papers? gone. Projects from elementary school? gone. I just don't have space for all of that (well, I do really, but it's overwhelming to try to keep up with all of the paperwork from the past let alone all the junk we own).

Each of these notebooks doesn't get added to very often but when I need them they are there and that works for me.

To see what works for other folks head on over to Rocks In My Dryer.


I've finally started reading, I know I'm a little behind the pack on this but it's truly the first opportunity I've had. Wow I'm enjoying this book. Unfortunately I didn't follow my usual pattern of reading from the beginning before I read the new book (because I don't have that kind of time right now) however I am finding that I remember certain things from past books and can appreciate some of the foreshadowing that goes on. She is a very complex writer when it comes down to it, lots of interwoven story lines.

Cool, cool, cool. Now I'm going to have to make time to re-read the whole thing (whenever).

jars and jars and jars

Today was sort of cool and rainy. With all the produce I had from the farm it seemed like a perfect day to make stuff. So make stuff we did. Steve helped from start to finish and we have now added significantly to the pantry:

3 pints of cucumber pickles
5 pints of zucchini pickles
8 half pints of dilled carrots
5 quarts of tomato sauce
3 quarts of shredded zucchini in the freezer (too tired to make more pickles)

Whoof! That's a lotta work. But it all went well and we had fun working together in the kitchen. Sasha was our official taster and pronounced everything satisfactorily edible. Next week there'll be more......

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

stitch stitch stitch

It was so much fun to be back at Stitch Sisters. We laughed and joked so much, it's a wonderful way to spend the evening.

The charity blankets are coming along. The multicolored one is very pretty, and is still making the rounds of the group. The aran blanket is almost done, a few more squares and then it can be assembled and presented to the Dream Come True Foundation. We're thinking about ideas for another charity project when this one is done. I really like that we have a lot of personal knitting and great interaction time but that we also have this one communal charity project every year. This is our fourth year as a group and our third charity knitting project. It's also kind of neat to pick a different organization or effort each year to support as I think it keeps everyone's interest up. If we were doing the same thing all the time it might get a little wearying after a while.

Tonight we were joking about having a lock-in meeting. We would all come in our pj's and knit until we dropped. Of course we would have to be careful to put down our needles before we fell asleep or we might wind up having to call 911. In our small town half our members have husbands on the Volunteer Fire Department. It might be embarassing to wind up with one of them on the phone, "And what is the nature of your emergency?" "Well...we have someone here who fell asleep and impaled herself on a knitting needle." "Phyllis, this isn't funny, don't bother me at work."
"But I'm not joking."

Of course when half the town shows up and we're all in our jammies the picture of startled knitters in pj's and curlers might wind up on the front page of the Small Town Gazette. Hmmmmmm, perhaps we should rethink this idea. But in the meantime we'll continue to enjoy our Tuesday nights.

foodie day

Today was definitely a foodie day. It started with my co-op pickup this morning. I have recently joined an in-town food co-op. Once a month a truck comes to the local church and delivers our order. I haven't been ordering huge amounts but can see the possibility for doing a lot more of my shopping this way. It saves time, gas and is frequently cheaper than the cost of similar items at the grocery store (especially for the vegan items for D). One big score today was a case of her favorite cereal

Barbara's Wild Puffs. No artificial ingredients, organic, tasty. What more could you want.

This afternoon was farm day. In the rain, not pouring but definitely coming down steadily. Even though we all know I am a wimp when it comes to rain I picked anyway; I wasn't going to miss out on all those luscious goodies. Pick your own was plum tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, herbs, flowers and sunflowers. The share was carrots, watermelon, corn, garlic, onions, summer squash, kale, peppers, yukon gold potatoes, kohlrabi. Plus they had a "help yourself" box of saucing tomatoes. I brought home a full grocery sack which will be made into sauce soon.

As soon as I got home I sliced up the plum tomatoes and three red peppers and set them to dry in the dehydrator. Next was making two batches of pesto. One for tonight's supper and one to keep for sandwich spread in the fridge.

Tomorrow I'm hoping to do some canning and make pickles. I'm also planning some yummy meals like Portuguese Potato and Kale casserole. Love this time of year, it's so delicious.

Monday, August 20, 2007

off and running

We dropped V off at college this weekend. As we drove up to the college Steve and I resisted the temptation to try to shove last minute parental admonitions into her ears. She's going to learn, or not, on her own at this point and it's part of our job to let go.

Obviously she was far more ready to let us go. We realized that if she hadn't needed us to hike her stuff up to her fourth floor dorm room we probably would have been dismissed three blocks from school. "No, it's fine, just drop me off here. I'm sure I can find my way around, why don't you head back home; don't worry about me, I'm fine." The age-old parent-young adult conversation as they wend their way into the world of higher education.

We did manage to leave her with one very important piece of information as we finished dinner together (a true test of parental love, paying to eat dorm food with your child instead of going out for a nice dinner in a restaurant): always take a pice of fruit when you leave the dining hall. Other than that, I guess she's on her own.


Knitting On Vacation. A wonderful thing to do. Passes the time, enjoyable, relaxing, a GREAT reason to visit new "local" yarn shops. I did actually manage to squeeze in some knitting "stuff" along with the hiking. The Lilac Lily was staffed with some wonderful, friendly people providing very enjoyable conversations and laughter. Beautiful yarns, lovely buttons, great accessories. They even had a husband waiting area, how thoughtful.

I was fortunate enough to have a fabulous conversation at a Farmer's Market with a woman who owns eight fleece producing animals and who grows, shears, cleans, roves, spins, plies, dyes and knits all of her own fiber. She had some amazing stuff. I didn't buy any but my sister-in-law did and it was gorgeous stuff.

In Bar Harbor we managed to stop by Bee's Inc. . They have some truly fabulous yarns at really great prices. Lovely stuff. It's hard to explain to a non-knitter why it's so much fun to fondle yarn but trust just is. This shop also carries a wide variety of candy to appeal to the non-knitters in your entourage party.

Lessons learned from knitting on vacation:

1. A pencil will not stand in well for a cable needle. This necessitates a trip to a knitting shop to buy a cable needle and a possible yarn purchase to soothe the anxious knitter.

2. Do not knit cables while driving on curvy mountain roads. Straightaways and highways are much better.

3. Instead of saying, "Wait till I finish this row" find a better euphamism. When you find one please call me so I can use it.

4. It's better to innocently walk past a yarn shop and then remark, "Oh, look, yarn." Than to wake up first thing in the morning with a yarn shopping plan in hand before your spouse has even had his coffee.

5. Bring phone numbers of knitting friends back home so that when you realize line number 42 is missing from your charity knit square pattern you can call someone for an emergency reading.

going my way?

We brought our GPS on vacation with us. With all of the twists and turns to get around the area we figured it would help. At one point, for a goof, Steve started looking at different languages and we would play the "guess which language this is" game which was pretty amusing.

Then he found Canadian. It wasn't what we thought. What did we think we'd get? Something along the lines of

"Turn left ahead eh"

Instead it was Canadian French. Perfectly understandable but not the regional language we thought we'd get. We started talking about different types of English (possibly prompted by thoughts of the PBS program "Do You Speak American?". This lead to a discussion of different accents and then we hit on the best GPS variety of all...Jamaica GPS. "Oh mon you go dey wrong way...dat's okay, no worries" "Ya mon turn left up ahead" "Okay mebbe turn right"

I think I've just hit on another GPS function that could make millions for the manufacturers. If interested contact me for more details and a mailing address for that check.

back in the saddle

We went away for a vacation to Maine and have just returned. It was lovely, wonderful, marvelous, I wish we were still there. The house we rented wasn't much, no insulation, on stilts, sort of a painted handy-man special. But it was big enough, dry enough and had a fabulous view. Even better it was just around the corner from my brother-in-law and his family who were also on vacation with us.

We spent a lot of time in Acadia National Park. It's so beautiful there and the hiking is just wonderful. I didn't go on any of the strenuous hikes, but still managed to get in several good hikes while we were there. The blueberry picking was great, we picked and ate handfuls of the luscious lovelies. Amazingly none of them survived the journey down the mountain to be turned into blueberry pancakes this year.

Of course we made the obligatory stop at Jordan Pond House for popovers.....mmmmmmmmmmmmm.

We had many wonderful meals while on vacation but the one I definitely want to mention is a simply marvelous meal we enjoyed at Red Sky Restaurant. The food was amazing, the service impeccable and the atmosphere truly lovely. The servers were extremely attentive bringing Miss K and her lovely little one-year-old self an impressive number of spoons as hers kept jumping from the table with alarming tendency. The chef sent out the hugest most delicious carrot we've ever seen for her to gnaw on. Everyone loved their meal. I had a lovely celery soup as an appetizer and for my meal combined two appetizers, a polenta, swiss chard dish and a leek and tomato tarte. For dessert I shared a lemon tart and a Belgian chocolate pudding. Both were good but the pudding was incredible.

It was one of those vacations that sort of melts away, leaving you feeling as if you are on a different time cycle.

Now it's back to life as usual but with a smile on my face.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

filling the freezer

Being too tired and too busy to do much canning up to this point I nonetheless have lots of produce that needs to be taken care of. Today was designated "the day" and I chopped, sliced, diced and prepared for the freezer. I almost got rid of the freezer thinking that we have two adult-sized children leaving for college and it wouldn't make sense to keep it. Hah! Hah I tell you. When you start freezing stuff suddenly there doesn't appear to be as much empty space and one might have otherwise expected.

I prepare all of my frozen items in freezer bags, laid flat on a cookie sheet to chill and then stacked sideways to take up less room. I learned this trick from Amy Dacyczyn of Tightwad Gazette fame.

New packages gracing our shelves include:

3 quarts of shredded zucchini
2 quarts of shredded yellow squash
2 quarts of salsa
3 quarts of fresh picked blackberries (some of these are as big as my thumb!!)
1 quart of kale
1 quart of swiss chard
3 quarts of green beans
1 quart of beets
plus I have a red cabbage dehydrating on the back porch

Whew! I'm tired. Somehow looking at the list does not adequately describe all of the preparation that goes into putting this food away. But I know that in the frozen depths of winter we will surely be grateful for this bounty.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

more than one

Melissa's moving, K is running and more. Lots of people seem to have more than one blog. It's an interesting thought because I've sometimes wondered if I should start another one...but then I wonder what I would write. Then I wonder why I write.

I know some of the people who read this are family and friends. Just keeping up with me and my musings. Some people find me because of the meme's that I irregularly participate in. And then there are those who find me by accident.

When I first started writing it was to document what was going on in my life. Life got really busy and I began to post less and less "thoughtful" posts. I confess that I mostly use this blog as a "happy place." I don't tend to talk about the not-so-nice stuff that is going on in my life. It's a sweet reflection of all the good things. I sit down occasionally and browse through the good bits or the funny bits and it makes me feel better. I do wonder how many people really care about what I got at the farm or how my knitting meeting went, etc. But I'm writing mostly for me and so I don't get worried overanalyzing that.

I do have some favorite bloggers who write long, thoughtful, interesting posts and I wish I could be more like them, especially bloggers like Dawn. I have other favorites who are so funny I can't wait for their next post like Laurie and BooMama (please write faster I need all the laughter I can get) and I certainly wish I could be more like them.

Every now and then there is a rant but not often. Most people who respond to my posts do so off-blog (which I find pretty funny).

I don't know how people find the time to write so much. I would like to write more but then I wonder what I would write about. In addition to blogging I journal. I've recently started an art journal with thanks to Hanna for sharing such a lovely list of inspiration links. I have a couple of other journals including a daily journal that I just got inspiration for from craftster. I find that I'm really enjoying the creative aspects of journaling. I've never included a lot of photos or graphics on my blog; as I've mentioned I don't have time to scrapbook. But the journaling is done in small bits so it seems easier to handle.

I find that I keep thinking the if/thens of life. If I get this organized then I'll have more time. If I make it to this point then things will calm down. Never seems to happen. But I certainly don't blog that much, probably don't have time to create another blog, have no idea what else I would blog so I guess that answers that.

wfmw - scrapbooks

It's been a while since I've participated in one of these, but life has been pretty hectic here. Not much sleep, let alone blogging going on. But I always check out the tips at Rocks in my Dryer.

Given that time is so tight these days and that I am about two years behind on my scrapbooks I have finally come to accept that they are not going to get done (at least not now anyway). My new idea is to make sure that I have collections of photos for those things that are really important to me, vacations, holidays, special events. I upload everything to my Snapfish account and build a memory book. I can do lots of layouts, different backgrounds, etc. The difference is that I leave blank pages for those things I know I need to put down (handwritten bits, souvenirs, etc) and if I want stickers I can add those later. I can even add handwritten journaling if I want. It's faster, easier and most definitely works for me.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

teen complaint

"I have nothing to wear"

This is the current complaint from Miss D. She's wearing a shirt she just received from my Aunt that says "Fashion is not a luxury!" Very cute shirt, looks good on her, not a sentiment that I can get into. I told her the shirt looked good on her and her response's just about the only shirt I have. I think I only have four shirts, I REALLY need to go shopping for more clothes. Really? And the three baskets of your clothes that seem to have taken up permanent residence in my room?

I guess it's a teen thing and I just don't understand.

stitching slowly

It was very hot at Stitch Sisters tonight. Although there was a fan and we opened windows and doors there was definitely a feeling of the knitting...talking...even in the laughing. It was all done in slow motion.

We celebrated a birthday tonight and the sister who brought dessert brought frozen chocolate confections that are a no bake recipe. Very smart on her part, very delicious for the rest of us.

the heat

Urgh it's been hot. We've had the AC on for three days now and I am so very grateful to have it. Not looking forward to the bill for the electricity but happy for the ability to sleep in a cool bedroom. It makes me wonder how we managed before. I remember having window box fans when I was a kid. No AC in sight.

Picking at the farm, sweating like a pig (no glowing here when it's that hot) it makes me wonder how the migrant workers manage to pick and work all day. I asked the local farm apprentices how they did it. They told me that they take frequent breaks for water and shade and they wear big hats. I still don't know how people can do that. We've become to accustomed to our luxuries, like air conditioning and not having to do hard physical labor to earn a living. Not that I want to go back to that as a way of living, believe me I like my running water, indoor plumbing and other luxuries, but I do question how distant we've become from the source of our food labor.

A startling thought that comes to mind is the lessons learned from history about when cultures become too soft and luxury bound the barbarians come charging over the hill, take over, become luxury bound and here come more barbarians. Could it happen again? Who knows. But I do believe we need to be more aware of, and appreciative of, those who work so hard to provide the food that graces our table and fills our bellies.

farm update

The farm has, as always, been great. This is the time of year when I start feeling abundantly blessed to have local, organic produce right "down the way." I also know that I am getting far more than the $28 per week that it is costing me. The recent haul included:

8 ears of corn - fresh and delicious
yellow squash
salad mix
lacinato kale (sorry Mom you left it here...we ate it)
herbs - this week we only took basil and cilantro

It's getting to be a challenge to use all this produce each week so I'll hopefully start up the canning machine soon and start cranking out pickles, tomato sauce and the like.

too much?

I've not been blogging much lately as we busily count down to back-to-school. With two heading off for college it seems even busier than I would think. That seems to be taking up most of my time.


I found myself starting to reorganize my craft closet (still trying to reorganize, reduce, declutter) and realized that it's gone too far. You know you have too many knitting projects when you start hanging the bags on hangers in the closet!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

wfmw - dating

Today is the WFMW Parenting edition. Don't forget to check out Rocks in my Dryer for more advice from others.

Not being an expert but having survived so far I have one real piece of advice that I share with anyone who asks for advice your spouse. Make sure that you go out a minimum of twice a month without the children. It doesn't have to be fancy, a picnic at the local park, a coffee at the coffee shop, a free concert at the town center, go out for breakfast, etc. The important thing is to go out without kids and just the two of you away from home.

We didn't mostly due to my husband's schedule and my feelings of guilt at leaving the kids. The mistake? When they became adolescents and we needed that break we not only had no foundation for it they were not used to it and played the guilt card big time. They're better about it now (and so are we) but it is very important to remember that without you (the two of you) there would be no them. And happy parents make for happy children. jm.02