Monday, July 30, 2012

The Latest News

Here are some things to tell you: I finished another quilt (see above). It was a year in the making, because I had every intention of hand-quilting it, and I did hand-quilt a little over half. But one day earlier this month I realized I wasn't enjoying the hand-quilting and it was taking forever. So I whipped the quilt over to my sewing machine and finished quilting it in a couple of hours. The pattern is called "Hidden Stars."

Other news: My stomach is finally on the mend. It's still sensitive and my diet is still limited. It seems strange to me that I can't eat string cheese without my stomach hurting, but there you have it. I've lost six pounds, which puts me close to my New Year's Resolution of losing ten pounds. So there are silver linings here.

I'm in a finishing mood. I'm finishing up the Gryffindor sweater I started for Will last summer, and a brown cardigan for myself. Why a brown cardigan, you ask? Well, knitting is all about imagination, I think, and a year or so ago, I imagined myself in a brown cardigan and gardening clogs in the late fall out in the beds picking kale, and so a sweater was born. I'm on the second sleeve, and it's just a tee tiny bit boring, all this brown. But it will be worth it this autumn, when I'm living out my sweater dreams.

Will went to the pool with Gavin today, and Jack went to drama camp, and I had several blissful hours in the house all alone. I don't think that's happened once this summer. I worked on a quilt and watched the last of "The Forsyte Saga" on Netflix. Have you watched it? Loved it. Now I'm going to read the book.

Lots of tomato action. One of the nice things about feeling better is that I have lots more energy and a lot less aversion to kitchen tasks. Last week I processed loads of tomatoes and made lots and lots of tomato sauce. The week before that, the Man processed tomatoes and made tomato-basil sauce, which is delicious. The freezer is started to fill up.  A good feeling.

Speaking of the Man ... he wanted to do something nice for me since I haven't been feeling so hot, so he painted our bedroom this weekend. I'll share a before picture now, and when we get the room put back together I'll show you the after picture.

Here's before:

The Man had just started working when I took this picture. Can you see how the room was industrial park beige? It was that way when we moved in--how did it take us so long to paint it? I guess we were putting all our decorating energy into the downstairs ...

It's nice to have someone willing to paint a room for you when your stomach hurts, don't you think? And today is our anniversary--eighteen years. Hurray!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Latest quilt top--July has been good for my quilty life!

A couple of weeks ago we had a string of very hot days--100+ degrees, a few days where the thermometer hit 105 and 106. Not pleasant, to say the least, but there has been a payoff. Now that we're back in the mid-90s, normal for these parts this time of year, well, it feels downright cool. What a difference ten degrees makes!

Yesterday Will and I spent three hours working on a paint-by-numbers painting, and we are both quite proud of the results. We also began our Harry Potter marathon, watching movies no. 1 and 2. Later, Will got stung by a yellow jacket when he was outside playing basketball. Having been stung a couple of times myself, I felt terrible for him, but I have to say it's nice to have a child who's still young enough to comfort with hugs and kisses.

Yesterday Jack, to nobody's surprise, slept until 2. Given that he appears to be growing an inch a week, I assume that all this sleep is necessary. Sometimes I try to get him to get up earlier, but really I don't have the heart for it. He's so cheerful after thirteen hours of sleep! As pleasant as can be. Does his chores without complaint, socializes with the family, spends long stretches of time reading real books and petting the dog. Do I really want to mess with that?

No. No I don't. School will mess with it soon enough.

Class rosters came out yesterday. Will is back with his best buddies, Gavin and Win. Much rejoicing was heard, the phone rang off the hook, and Will kept fist pumping the air every time he thought of it. Victory! Whether or not any learning will take place with this triumvirate in the same classroom remains to be seen.

Poor Jack. After an amazing 7th grade advisory, his eighth grade group looks a bit rag tag. The girls are wonderful, but the boys? Meh. One of them's a nice kid we've known for ages, though I don't think he and Jack are great friends. The other three boys? Bottom of the barrel. But I told Jack that you never know. Middle school is a time where great changes occur over the course of the summer. He may be surprised that some of the bozos have grown into good guys. It could happen.

My gut is still cranky, and I'm still waiting to hear back about the lab results, which I hope will come in today or tomorrow. It's not so bad, existing on chicken noodle soup, toast and yogurt pretzels. It certainly simplifies things. And it's fun to think about the food I'll eat when I get better again. Tomatoes! Pizza! More pizza! Salad! Fruit! Oh, my goodness. Did I mention pizza?

Okay, well, my lack of coffee is kicking in, and suddenly I feel like a nap. Given that it's only 10:30 in the morning, maybe I'll do the dishes instead. Hope all is well with you!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

from the Use Half Campaign on Facebook

 I am decaffeinated. Have you ever been decaffeinated? Maybe you've never caffeinated yourself in the first place. Neither of my brothers drink coffee, and I find that strange. How did they get through their college exams?

I started drinking coffee my freshman year and have been a devoted imbiber ever sense. I don't drink a lot--two mugs a day, plenty of half and half--and can't have any after 5 p.m. or else I'm up all night. I drank coffee through both of my pregnancies, even though it didn't taste quite right. But nothing tasted quite right when I was pregnant.

Last week, when I went to see my doctor about my cranky gut, he said I had to give up coffee for the time being. My stomach is inflamed (we don't know why) and coffee is just turning the heat up higher.

I assumed I'd go through a day or two of feeling sort of sleepy, and then I'd feel fine. Instead, it's like I've been sleepwalking for a week. Today is the first day I've felt myself again, and I'm pretty sure it's because I had a cup of black tea with my toast this morning.

The question is, when my stomach calms down again, will I go back to coffee? I had assumed I would. But now that I've gotten over the worst of it, I wonder. I'm going to monitor myself for the next week and see how I feel. Do I sleep better? Does my morning anxiety drop off? Am I calmer? Smarter? Prettier?

I'll keep you posted.


After much consideration, I'm fairly sure I'm going to get braces this fall. My dentist feels like it will improve my overall dental health and help me keep my own teeth for years to come. I think it's a good idea, though I'm not looking forward to everyone calling me "brace face" and "metal mouth" for the next 18+ months.

The funny thing is, I think I'll miss my old mouth. I have an overbite, a crooked tooth, and a big gap in between two bottom teeth. Nobody notices the gap until I point it out, but it bugs me. Still, it's mine, and it's a part of my smile, just like the overbite and the crooked tooth. I've had this mouth forever. Will I still be me when my overbite is gone and my teeth are straight and gap-free?

Or will I be Julia Roberts? I might be Julia Roberts. And I really don't want to deal with the paparazzi. Would you?


I'm still waiting for the summer to fall into a routine. So far it hasn't. Maybe it won't. Maybe the lack of routine will be the summer routine. I always imagine my summers will be one way, and they're almost always another. You'd think I'd learn.

Monday, July 2, 2012

And Now Summer *Really* Begins

We're back from our lovely vacation, and I have spent most of the morning and the early part of the afternoon getting the house put back together. I scrubbed and scrubbed before we left, knowing from experience how nice it is to return to a clean house and how depressing to return to a dirty one.

For all my scrubbing, as soon as we brought in the luggage and towels and boxes of books, the house lost its clean and tidy vibe. It will probably take days, even years, to return it to its former glory. And given the heat and the humidity around here, well, girls, I don't know if I'm up for the full job. I may watch "From Larkrise to Candleford" DVDs and knit instead.


One job I'll need to be up for soon: processing tomatoes. The vines are loaded down with them, and I predict we'll start seeing ripe, red globes by the end of the week. I plan on canning gallons of spaghetti sauce until I can't stand it anymore and just start freezing tomatoes whole. I made a lot of very fine sauce from frozen tomatoes this winter. All you do is thaw them in bowl, then throw them in a pan with some sauteed onions and garlic, break the tomatoes up with the edge of your spatula, and then let the sauce cook down until it's thick enough to do something with. Easy as pie.

I need to take some pictures of the garden to show you. It's gone wild, as it does every year we get enough rain. Lots of green beans and lima beans and little melons and HUGE zucchini (you really have to stay on top of the zucchini or else they turn into cavemen clubs overnight) and yellow squash and crowder peas. It's a bit much, really, but fun.


Have you read any books by the English writer Miss Read? She wrote tons of them, mostly about two villages, Fairacre and Thrush Green. Her first book was published in 1955, and she continued to publish until the 1990s. She died earlier this year at the age of 98.

I have just begun my odyssey with Miss Read (real name: Dora Jessie Saint). I checked out Emily Davis from the library, and am enjoying it very much. It's a fairly straightforward, unadorned sort of book, but it satisfies my anglophile soul. So far there have been several mentions of knitting. Need I say more?

Here's a description of Miss Read's oeuvre from Wikipedia, in case you think you might be interested:

From 1955 to 1996 Saint wrote a series of novels centred on two fictional villages, Fairacre and Thrush Green. The first Fairacre novel appeared in 1955, the last in 1996. The first Thrush Green novel appeared in 1959. The principal character in the Fairacre books, Miss Read, is an unmarried schoolteacher in a small village school, an acerbic and yet compassionate observer of village life. Saint's novels are wry regional social comedies, laced with gentle humour and subtle social commentary. Saint was also a keen observer of nature and the changing seasons.


No matter how much I enjoy our time at the beach, by the end of the week I'm ready to come back to my little world and my little dog and my messy kitchen with its tiny oven and the window over the sink where I can watch my garden grow a little wilder every day.

It's nice to be home.