Sunday, February 27, 2011

A Plan

Many years ago my grandmother worked on quilts with her mother. It was during the war. They passed their evenings hand sewing tiny scraps of fabric together. The fabrics didn't usually coordinate, and they were not the latest trend. They used what they had. Some of the blocks and quilt tops they made never became quilts. Instead they sat in a closet waiting.

When my grandmother died, my aunt gave the pile to my mom. She thought her brother's wife could use them better than she. My mom put them up in her closet. Almost two years ago, my mother pulled them out of her closet, and gave them to me. My mom thought I might be able to use them. My father did not want them. He knew his mother made them, but wasn't sure they could be used. He worried that the fabric was too old to be of use. I looked at them and marveled at the tiny hand stitches. Each piece was meticulously hand sewn. I wasn't sure what to do with them, so I put them into my closet. I knew I would use them, I just wasn't sure what they should become.

Recently I have been pulling them out and mulling over what to do with them. I wondered how to best utilize the fragile fabric and intricate piecing. I knew the complete top would need to be sandwiched with a good backing and bound. That would be easy once I found a fabric for the back. It also would need to be quilted. That would be a bit trickier. I pondered the best use of the larger dresden plate blocks and the 6 point stars. What size quilt could it make? Would it be better as a pillow or a wall hanging? It was so much to decide. My mind would reel, and I would shove the fabric back into the closet.

Today I decided to forge ahead. I counted the dresden blocks and sat down with graph paper. I graphed the quilt I have in mind. It is simple, but I think it will be used. I don't want these to sit in the closet any longer. I want them to be part of our lives. I spoke to my mom a bit about the quilts, and she likes my plan. Tomorrow I will begin to actually sew.

Friday, February 25, 2011



Ridiculously crooked; out of whack and stupid looking

I first learned to crochet as a child. My mom taught me to chain and single crochet. I ended up with a rhombus shaped swatch. I put it aside. I learned to knit years later and have spent my time on that pursuit. I always knew how many stitches I had, and things turned out as expected (most of the time). Yet the art of crochet has pulled at me.

I am learning to crochet again. I made one of my nieces a hat for the holidays. It was my first real crochet project. It was so stinkin' cute pink with a huge flower. I made quite a few more flowers to embellish other hats. It was so easy and quick. I received a book about crochet, and I became cocky. I thought I had it figured out. I had made a hat, hadn't I!

Yesterday while talking with my sister, we discussed patterns. There are so many cute crochet patterns! She was making a washcloth and had just finished. I shared that I knit one for Dave the other day, but I was set to crochet one as well. We talked patterns more as I chained my first true washcloth. 

The directions were confusing, but I persevered. It was a mess! I am not sure where it went so horribly wrong. I made a dishcloth in the shape of Montana. I am sure Dave will not mind. I think I am going to say I invented a new stitch or pattern. I think my sister will say it is caddywumpus.
Coincidentally it is yellow like my first project

Thursday, February 24, 2011


I am a morning person. I wake early by nature. I love jumping out of bed and starting the day. I am married to a night person. He slowly lingers in bed until the last moment. He then rolls out cautiously. My children are a mix. They love getting up early to catch what the new day brings. They also love staying up late connecting with their papa who has been gone all day.

Recently I noticed that we were trying to be both morning and night people. It hasn't really been working. Days stretch on with much frustration and tears. Too little time for restoration of little bodies and minds. Too little time for husband and wife to be together. And too little time for me. In an attempt to honor everyone's needs, I noticed that I had forgotten my love of mornings and my need for quiet alone time. I had forgotten my husband's need for slow mornings and long nights.

I am hoping to find a better balance. I am starting with me and my attitude. Lately I have been setting an alarm to get up. I slide out of bed alone and enjoy the silence careful not to wake anyone. I need a few minutes alone to process my thoughts. I enjoy reading my email, catching up on my favorite blogs, showering, reading and knitting. It is a perfect start to my day. With just these few precious moments, I feel like a new person.
This photo has little to do with the post, but I love it. It is from our recent trip.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Good Decision

As I mentioned, I struggled with what knitting to take on our trip.  I always have optimistic visions of completing many more projects while road tripping. Despite ample car time, the trip was really only 5 days. Luckily I had plenty of choices packed with me.

The day before we left, I knocked out a quick washcloth for Dave. Finishing this quick project set the tone and energized my knitting. On the drive to California, I hunkered down and began my sweater. I knit and knit and knit on it. I even took it to the beach. I am almost done with the body of the sweater. Woo Hooo!! My gauge is still off, but I am forging ahead. It is sure to fit someone I know. The pattern is an easy, fast top down raglan.
Ginny's Yarn Along
Reading was more of a challenge. Fortunately our family listens to a lot of audiobooks. On this trip we read/listened to A Secret Garden twice. I think audiobooks rock. I was thrilled when I found this collection based on my sister's suggestion.

I am still plodding through An Object of Beauty as well. It is for my book group AHEBB (Angry Housewives Eating BonBons - named for the book by that name which was our first read). I am not enjoying it much. It is a bit difficult for me to get into. If I were reading it for my own pleasure I would have quit.

Do you ever quit reading a book?

I never used to do this, but I started in the last few years. It is so liberating. I find I only have so much time to read, so why spend it reading something I don't enjoy. At first I was a bit guilty but no more!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

This Moment

The benefits of napping and staying up late are one on one time with your poppa.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Road Tripping - The Beach

After a harried trip to the Discovery Science Center (who knew every Californian with young children would go to the Science museum on the same day!?!?), we headed to the beach. The weather was cold, but it did not deter us. Eamon explored the pier and found many creatures in the pools. Aine and Benton raced around the shoreline running into the oncoming waves. They rescued sea life from shallow pools, wrote in the sand, chased birds and enjoyed the ocean. The fun ended more quickly than desired as wet clothes and cool weather do not mix well.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Road Tripping II

We were able to squeeze in some fun with my oldest younger brother and nephew while in California. We planned to take a hike near his home to explore a cave, but the recent rain altered our plan a bit. The whole clan ended up walking at Laguna Nigel Regional Park
The kids loved running, jumping in puddles, collecting sticks and stomping in mud. We paused at the park halfway through our walk for more playtime.  

Teeter Totter fun
 Aine loved pushing her cousin in the stroller and giving him loads of love.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Road Tripping

We packed up the car and headed out for an adventure on Thursday. The weather was beautiful as we drove to California. Our plan was a surprise visit to Disneyland. A few weeks ago, my husband's father called to offer us tickets to Disneyland. We would stay in a hotel and be close to his home for frequent visiting. We couldn't pass it up. We didn't tell the kiddos hoping for a grand surprise. 

The kids were so excited when we checked into the hotel. They bounced from room to room jumping on beds and exploring every nook and cranny (we don't stay in hotels much apparently!). They tested the phone and reset the alarm clock for 12:24am (don't ask how we know the exact time). They shared hugs and stories with their Grandpa and delighted in it all.

On Friday morning, we headed to the "happiest place on earth." As we approached the gates and parking for Disneyland, they still had no idea. Eamon even questioned why we were parking in the Disney lot when we were looking for a museum (Grandpa's idea for a ruse). They were delighted when the true nature of our day was revealed. Surprisingly they were not interested in the characters walking around the park. Instead we rode rides and played at the park. Some of the rides were a bit too dark, scary and loud for my crowd. Eamon decided he didn't want to ride any more after enduring the Pinocchio ride. Benton said he wanted off! We took it slow after that and enjoyed the milder parts of Disney. We explored the carousel, Tarzan's treehouse, the tea cups and Toon Town. Eamon wanted to try the Indiana Jones ride, so we found fast passes for it.

After lunch, Aine joined Dave on a big ride, while Eamon, Benton and I took in the Aladdin show. Dave believes she will be his roller coaster buddy as she gets older. She is truly fearless. However she wasn't too keen about the ride while it was happening, and afterward she said it was scary. It started to rain pretty hard at that point, so we headed to the car.

Grandpa had given each of them some spending money. They took a look at Disney prices and decided they wanted to shop at Target on the way to the hotel instead. After a little detour to shop, we were snuggled back at the hotel to watch the rain.

It was an interesting trip for me as I am not a big fan of Disney. We don't do TV aside from PBS in our home and videos are limited. I find the movies to be too dark and scary for my family. I was amazed by my kiddos' reactions. They were not impressed by the characters and really were more excited to just run around and check everything out. 

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Planning, plotting and packing

We are getting ready for a trip. I am trying to make sure we are ready. I am making a lot of lists. I am revising the lists. I am evaluating everything. I am trying not to leave anything to chance. I do not want to be caught unprepared. It has happened in the past, and it was not fun. One list is making me nervous. I often pack a bit too much, but I want to make sure I have enough to knit and to read.
Since I participate in Ginny's Yarn Along, these staples are truly needed.
I am currently working on three projects - monster longies, a sweater for me (that has been started 3 times), and a pair of socks. I plan to bring these as well as a small skein of yarn to make a washcloth. I am also bringing my current read, An Object of Beauty. If I finish that, I will have my Nook with two more books on it.

Perhaps I need another finishing project or a quick hat. Is it enough? Truly we will be in the car for quite a long time. UGH! I hate packing.


My dad is the consummate DIYer. He will tackle any project. Growing up, he had a plan for everything, and it often involved child labor. We moved river rock, shoveled dirt, dug holes, painted rooms, hung ceiling fans, ran electrical lines, moved outlets, installed telephone lines, built a swing set, chopped firewood, changed brakes/water pumps/alternators/oil, laid brick, and installed irrigation. You name it; we did it. Work was truly a family affair.
Benton and GrandDad
It has always appeared that my dad knows everything. For every project he has a story about how he has done this particular thing many times. His recount often includes one time when he was quite young living next door to the Avery's. His knowledge is truly extensive, and it is only surpassed by his tool collection. Having the right tool definitely helps when you tackle so many things. He has whatever you need for the project. Some of his tools are old, and most have a history. A few need a bit of work, but all are perfectly good in his mind (and don't tell him otherwise). 
His perfectly good wheelbarrow
My dad works hard, however, he does not work well with a deadline. Some tasks can take a very long time. (Don't even get my mom started on that one.) He made our playstands, but it took a lot of gentle nudging. Projects can last many months and occasionally years.
Benton and Grandma holding the tether
The most memorable DIY project as a youth was installing the landscaping. My parents bought a new house in the early 80s that came with no landscaping. Instead of hiring someone to do it, my dad felt our family was up to the task. He had the dirt excavated from our neighbor's pool installation deposited in the street to help shape the front yard. We shoveled and moved dirt to sculpt the rolling yard. Once that project was done, we trenched and installed irrigation lines. Then he had river rock delivered as well as granite. We shoveled and raked until I never wanted to see rocks again. Finally we laid sod and planted trees and scrubs.
Eamon waiting to use the pickaxe, while watching GrandDad with the chainsaw
A bit later, we tackled the backyard. My dad joked that as a family we would dig the diving pool. I wasn't completely certain he was kidding until the contractors arrived. When the pool and playcourt were done, he decided he wanted some of the front yard rock moved to the backyard around the pool. We shoveled and moved the rocks again. Finally it was finished. Or so we thought. I think we moved those rocks a total of 5 times. I was certain no one ever had it worse than me.

I spoke with my brother today. He is in town to help my parents with some household chores. I asked if he was moving rock. He wasn't completely sure that it wasn't on the list. We joked a bit about past DIY projects.
My brother's work boots
The kids wanted to see their uncle, so we went to say hello. True to form, we ended up helping. We didn't move rock, but we did remove a few scrubs that have grown beyond their space in the past 25 years. Eamon, Aine and Benton learned how to shovel, hoe, use a pickaxe, remove an agave stump, feel an agave center and sweep. They LOVED it. There was a lot of joking around with my brother and parents. I could tell my dad was happy.

As it turns out, my dad was right. Work is still a family affair.

Monday, February 14, 2011

12 Years Ago...

He planned a surprise. I almost found out. My sister knew. She was worried about my answer. She almost told. I had no idea. He wanted to do it later in the day. We had plans to meet friends at the Field Museum. We were talking about invisible fences for his dog. I suggested we email my uncle. He wanted to wait. I told him we had time. I would probably forget if we waited. I noticed an email from my sister entitled "You have to check this out." I thought it was a forward. I opened the link. I didn't notice him behind me. It was his proposal. I turned around and he asked me. I said, "Yes!"

Saturday, February 12, 2011


Benton, looking at our engagement photo, told Dave, "It's Mama pushing you off the rock."

Friday, February 11, 2011

A New Volcano

I like to read blogs. I get a lot of great ideas from them. Since we homeschool, good ideas are important. Recently I read about an experiment called Elephant toothpaste. It sounded like something everyone would enjoy.

I prepped our ingredients which consisted of yeast, hydrogen peroxide and dish washing detergent.
I mixed the hydrogen peroxide and dish soap in a 20 oz soda bottle. We didn't have any food coloring, so I used a bit of red paint (it is the month of red, you know). In the smaller dish, the yeast was mixed with a bit of warm water.
 Aine wanted to pour the yeast mixture into the bottle. We used a funnel to make it a bit easier.

Eamon touched the liquid. He was surprised to find that it felt warm. Benton wanted to taste it. He was disgusted to find that it tasted like dish soap. BLECH! Aine thought it was pretty cool, and wants to now make some volcanos to test out the new lava.


Taking one's picture is not an easy task. Our main camera had a low battery, so I used my smaller point and shoot. I have so loved this camera, but lately the photos have not been very good. It may be due to little fingers prying open the lens cover or that it resides in my purse - usually at the bottom. Add the fact that the camera continually gets stuck in video mode, and you will understand my frustration. Luckily tonight it cooperated, and I was able to document my finished hat. Voila!
Hat of Ennui yarn: Malabrigo
A long stint at the park with friends provided the perfect opportunity to finish the ennui hat. I had knit all but the crown last night. So while the kiddos played with sand toys, climbed, rode scooters, created games and ran around the park, I knit.  I think this may have solved my problem. I have a finished project and renewed knitting vigor. No more knitting ennui for me.

So what did you do today?

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Knitting Ennui

We spent some time at the park today. We have been parking a lot lately as the weather has been beautiful. It happens when you live in the desert southwest. The park was full of painting today. There was face paint

and a whole lot of green body painting.

What there wasn't much of was knitting. I have been in a bit of a knitting funk. Two days ago I frogged a sweater for myself. I changed needles as my gauge seemed to be off and a friend said I had to swatch in the same needles I would be using to knit (circular needles instead of straights). So I started anew with bigger needles. I knit that for a bit, but stopped as my gauge is still off. Then there are two pairs of longies to knit for a new set of twins to arrive in May. Those sit languishing in my knitting bag. Today I decided I needed to break the cycle and knit a quick hat. So, I headed to the park today with THREE projects in my purse. With all those options available, I didn't knit a single stitch. I did, however, take the yarn out for the hat hoping to cast on. It just sat there.

Now I am home, and as I wind down for the day I have decided to begin and finish the hat. Of course, with 70 degree weather there isn't much need for a hat, but I have a need to break through the ennui. So for now I am knitting Soulemama's favorite knit hat, watching a bit of John Adams and reading a bit of Ape House by Sara Gruen. 
Yarn Along