Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Cleaning House

I warn you: This post is all about cleaning. Yawn, I know, but few things make me happier than tidying up my home. If my mom read that, she'd probably sputter and point. I mean, she knew me when I lived at her house, where a hamster cage, a penchant for pack-ratting, and the inability to put a soda can in the recycling bin, all conspired to make my room quarantine-worthy. I was no better in college. I was no better when Erik and I got married.

It wasn't until I had kids that I really started to think about a house as our home. I really started to pay attention to the details that make us, this particular circle of four, feel like this is the place we'd rather be than anywhere else in the world.

For My Boys (TM) it's usually about making sure they have their space. We have a small house, but because Tommy and Scotty share a room, we end up with a 'spare bedroom'. We gave it over to them, and their toys, and their books. It's a room that doesn't have to be 'picked up' or even 'organized' at all times. It's the place where they can leave their hideaways (built with blocks) in position and staffed by miniature Star Wars characters and Lego men, for days on end, without upsetting the flow of our daily lives. It's a Very Important Place, and I just walk by and shut the door when I've had enough.

Scotty loves to help me clean. When I'm polishing the furniture, he just comes unhinged until I hand off the towel and the polish. He rubs the cloth around and then uses his fingernail to scrape gunk off the furniture, just like I do! It cracks me up. He doesn't know I'm removing something sticky or stubborn; so he ends up just scraping away at nothing every few moments.

My 'furniture polish' is vinegar, olive oil, and some lemon juice. In a pinch, we can toss the polish with romaine lettuce and eat a salad.

I have two challenges when it comes to housework: procrastination, and bitterness.

I am a list-maker. And I often find myself moving a 'project' from list-to-list without ever actually doing the project, so I can cross it off a list. Cleaning out the refrigerator was one such item. Finally, this weekend, I had to ask myself....Who suffers when I put off cleaning the refrigerator? The only answer is, us. A messy, packed refrigerator isn't clean, or fun to work with. It means we waste food that I 'forgot' was in there. Putting off this project, or any project, means the our family, and our home, are suffering.

The second wee problem....bitterness. Actually, the two are related. Last week, I was out of the house for a few hours one evening. When I came back, something sticky was smeared across the hardwood floor in the living room. I thought, "Yuck! I better get that mopped up!" But I put it off. So the next day, it was still there. And the next day, it was still there. And by the third day, I was getting angry when I saw it. Every time I looked at, I was overwhelmed with resentment that that sticky mess would be there until I cleaned it up. It's so easy for me to slide from there straight down into a pity party...you know, "Where's my good-fairy that magically cleans everything while I'm off having fun?" or, one of my favorites, "Why do I have to do everything?" And so on.

If I hadn't put it off, if I had just grabbed a wet cloth and spent 3o seconds swabbing the floor, that resentment couldn't have built. I'm also trying other strategies to keep myself from getting upset about nothing. I remind myself that I'm choosing to do these things so we can have a happy and healthy home. So what's the point of getting all upset about things that are supposed to be making us happy? Nobody cares if the beds don't get made or if the dishes pile up for a day or two...but everybody cares when I'm being beligerent. Nobody's happy when mama's unhappy.

The other way that bitterness can sneak up on me is also list-related. So much about housework is never-ending. I can make a list today that says, "Make beds, sweep, do dishes, clean bathrooms, do laundry." And tomorrow, when I make a new list, it will say, "Make beds, sweep, do dishes, clean bathrooms, do laundry." It can be daunting to see a list that never goes down!

If you have tips, I'd love to hear them! Or wait. Is it possible I'm the only person who struggles with this? I'm going to need to go lay down.

Edited to add: So, shortly after I wrote this, my mom popped by one morning to pick Scotty up for the day. I was thinking that my house was a 'mess' at this time...beds unmade, a couple of hampers of laundry waiting to be folded, dishes from the night before still in the sink. You know, if you read the above, what I'm talking about. But my mom asked me, and after I had to leave, she asked Erik, what was up with how clean the house is...And there you. Obviously, I need to chill-ax. With wine. On my patio.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Three In One

I think if I live to be 100 years old, I will never forget Tommy, tonight, at his baseball game. This is his first year, and he's got so much potential; almost all of it unrealized!

And I so did not want to be there. It was bitter cold, with high winds. Last Monday? It was 90 degrees F. This Monday? 55. It was overcast, and blustery. Not in a cute, Winnie the Pooh kind of way, either, just in a gusting and gale kind of way. Erik was at band practice, so I had to wrangle Scotty the whole time too. My hands were like popsicles. More than once I thought about how miserable I was; and then I let it go, time and again, because if my Daddy taught me anything about life (and he has), it's that misery is optional.

So there I was, trying to talk myself into some kind of Taoist's meditative state ("be the cold") ("embrace the wind") when Tommy, playing third base (as a pirouetting pirate the first half of the inning) suddenly caught a pop fly AND, AND, amazingly, had the presence of mind to then fire the ball to second base, somehow finally internalizing that the runner would have to tag up before running on the pop-out. I was so proud of him! And a double play! It was such a big deal!

And the next batter? Popped-up? Right to 3rd base? And Tommy caught it! Again! All three outs, he got them all, right in a row!

He was jumping all around, everybody was cheering him, and they all attacked him the dug out, with high-fives and man-hugs all around.

*sigh* Good times.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

From the Garden

Did some harvesting! I washed all of this by filling the kitchen sink with cold water and letting the vegetables soak in the basin, which bothered Tommy a lot! He tattled on me: "Dad, look what mom is doing! There could be bugs in our sink!"

A few days ago my mom gave me a HUGE bag of swiss chard from her garden. Thanks mom! It's beautiful, and tasty! I've blanched it and used some of it, but I found a few recipes I'd like to try this week. (Thank you, Internets!) So far I've just used it in a few things I normally make with spinach.

Here's a really simple one, that I just can't get enough of: cook some rice (your choice, I use long grain basmati or brown), set it aside. Put a bit of extra virgin olive oil in a pan, heat over medium heat with a crush garlic and some sliced onions. Throw in the swiss chard (or spinach leaves) and saute it up. It'll reduce down to almost nothing, volume wise, so it's good to use lots of veggie material in this one! Once it's warmed up, put the rice in with it so it's all mixed and heated together. Right before I "serve it" (or, "chow down on it") I toss in walnuts and some feta cheese. I can't tell you how much walnuts and feta cheese you will need, but a "metric ton" seems right when I'm doing it. Use your own judgment.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Last night I went to Cori's book reading at the Modern Times Bookstore on Valencia Street in San Francisco! Oh Cori, she did such a great job! I can't imagine discussing anything so personal in front of a crowd of people, but she was terrific. And very pregnant! Yes, the dress was for Baby Clementine, another Leo due late this summer. She wrote this book, called Sweet Charlotte's Seventh Mistake, and although I bought this book many months ago (and read it twice!) I am now the proud owner of a signed copy.

I took the train into the city. I often pull my hair up into a bun with a loose clip, and then wrap a scarf around it. My hair is thick (thick I tell you!) and coarse. Grandma Mary says I have "horse hair" because it's not unlike a mane. Great. Anyway, I only wash it once or twice a week (though I rinse it more often) because it gets so dry if I use shampoo. I've thought about using homemade shampoo, or rinsing it with vinegar instead of just hot water, but nothing's come of those thoughts yet. My hair is so straight. Stick straight. Heavy, thick, straight hair. Probably somebody's dream, but you know how it is...grass is always greener, etc.

Anyway, there is a point to all this! Because I don't wash my hair every day, or even every other day, I try not to let it get too dirty. So that's why I often wrap it up, and that's why I ended up on a BART train, wearing a scarf around a bun, and, I shit you not, knitting a shawl. It's funny how many people were staring at me! I thought it was the knitting, which can be mesmerizing to watch, but then we went into the tunnel and I saw my reflection in the darkened window and no, I'm pretty sure they were staring at me because I looked Amish. Whoops!

When I got to the train station, I had 5 city blocks to stroll before reaching the book store. Now, I lived in San Francisco for many years, and specifically, the Mission District was my 'hood. I cannot tell you how many burritos I have eaten at La Cumbre, or how many middle of the night 'dinners' I've eaten at La Rondalla after our restaurant shift ended. I've walked my roommates dog at the dog park next to the police substation. I've ridden on the handle bars of my friend's bike, flying down 18th Street from Church to Van Ness. I've caught the #24 Mission Bus in the middle of the night (but don't tell my dad, my god he'd have a heart attack). And none of it felt odd at all. Just normal, city life.

I just got such a kick of walking those same city blocks last night! I guess that's what I looked like, when I was 22, but seeing it through my eyes now as a forty-*cough* year old, they all just looked so...rowdy. Really? Falling out of a bar at 9 o'clock on a Wednesday night? It's a school night! The sirens, the yelling, the people hanging out of their windows from the flats above the store fronts...it was all so loud. And I know it hasn't changed at all in 20 years. It looked and felt exactly as it did when it was me and my friends standing on those street corners arguing about whose landlord was most like satan.

So what can I say? Even the Amish, can't get a raised eyebrow on a Wednesday evening, walking up Mission Street. My kind of place, even to this day!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

I crocheted this little baby dress for my friend. Well, technically, it's for her baby! haha I've made this dress before, actually, and I wish I hadn't. I mean, that friend LOVES this dress, and I'm really happy about that. Her baby wore it as a dress and then over jeans. She's been wearing it for just about a year already! So that's all good.

The problem is, this dress is perfect for my other friend's baby. It's got this earthy, hippie tip that completely suits her! I'm not good at photographing projects, so you may have to trust me that the colors are great. Everybody went nuts for this when they saw me working on it. (I worked on it in an airport, and on a plane, this last weekend.) I really went back and forth on whether to make it, because the point of handmade is to give a one-of-a-kind gift, not a two-of-a-kind gift! In the end, I had to do it. It's just too perfect for her. But you see? Do you see why I wish I had made it for her, and her alone? I like the dress, but if I make it again, no matter who it's for, it will be different colors. Definitely.

Spring is really here! I can tell because today I officially dried three loads of laundry in one day! Just a few days ago, I had to hustle out there and get the clothes up before 10am so maybe ~ maybe! ~ they'd be dry by dinnertime.

My Grandma Dot always had a clothesline, which ran across her lawn between two huge pine trees. My mom is currently "punishing" my dad by refusing to use the electric dryer until he fixes the floor in her laundry room. Yeah, so, I've tried to point out that perhaps he wasn't suffering enough under the current system, but she doesn't actually care. I think she'd rather hang her clothes in the sun.

So, three generations of laundry lines. I have been hanging on the line in fits and starts for the last year or so. Like a lot of things that are a part of 'living simply', it started out very complicated for me. Where to hang it? Do I buy an umbrella style clothesline for $40? But then I'd have to buy a $70 stand too! Ugh. I finally put two lines up in the backyard, on opposite ends (shed to fence post on one side; weird random pole to roof access near the play-yard on the other side). Total cost: $3.99 for the line, which I cut. It's worked out great, and I'm finally in a groove of hanging clothes every day. It takes very little time to hang an entire load (definitely under 10 minutes) and even less time to take them down. Just a minute or two, and I usually have my little Scotty helper, who likes to pull them down while I scamper around trying to stay ahead of him releasing the clothespins so they don't snap and break when he wrangles them. I fold them as we take the clothes down, so that's a time saver.

When I was comparing it to just bending over and shoving all the wet clothes into the dryer, it hardly seemed "simpler"! But simple also means deliberate. Of doing small things with intention. It is only a few minutes, after all, and it saves electricity, wear and tear on clothes, and you can't beat the smell (and that extra special "crunch"!) of line-dried clothes and linens!

It cracks me up to see Scotty's underpants on the line, because they have Cars or Superman pasted across the butt. There's a trail behind our house that runs through parks land, and there's a pretty steady stream of hikers and dog walkers with just a barbed-wire fence separating them from our backyard. I was giggling this afternoon, thinking about that army of underroos flapping at them in the breeze!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Sewing With Help

I've been working on a 'swap project', and I'm having so much fun! Rhonda over at Down To Earth is hosting, and it's the first time I've ever done this. I love Rhonda's blog, and her attitude. She reminds me of my mom, that is, if my mom weren't so anti-social. My mom is a total introvert, in the classic sense. If you've seen how loud she can get after a bottle of red, you'll think I'm crazy, but she's an introvert in the way that she really needs almost no interaction with people. She is mostly happy to be alone, or with the few people she truly cares about, and needs very little human input ~ she truly does not care if you like her, understand her, or agree with her. She's not what one would call a "people pleaser", or if she is, she's very, very bad at it. hahaha

Anyway, Rhonda is very extroverted in the sense that she naturally sort of reaches out, builds community, and shares. My mom does lots of things without talking about any of them, so I find myself learning the details behind many of the things my mom has always done, just from Rhonda instead of my mom.

I don't want to show too much of the projects just yet, as I don't know if Pippa will be reading this before the package makes it's way over to the UK, and I don't want to spoil the surprise.

It's a mix of things I do very well ~ like crochet ~ and things I am learning to be very good at ~ like embroidery. I've done enough embroidery in the past few months that I now think more about craftsmanship than just trying to finish it, but the funky ends or knotted threads on the final product never did bother me.

There was also quite a bit of sewing, which I don't do very well. And which I am not very good at. So what you're left with is, something I'm beginning to learn. As a frame of reference, one of the "big things" I'm working on in my sewing is "keeping a straight line" when I'm simply running a hem through the machine. Oh boy.

But like I already told [read: warned] Pippa: When it comes to 'homemade', the love is in the mistakes! Luckily, she agreed!

Scotty wanted to help me with one of the sewing bits. At first I just tried to keep him busy putting straight pins into a tomato cushion, but he's no fool, and he quickly recognized that the machine is where all the real action is. So he "helped" me make a bobbin (the unthreaded needle, racing to nowhere while the bobbin was winding, first concerned and then fascinated him).

Then he "helped" me with a simple hem.

It's good for me to let him work with me, because his wonky seams are so charming to me! It helps me to find charm in my own, tentative attempts to learn something new. I mean, I know he's three, and so you wouldn't expect him to have a perfect seam, but honestly, I'm not unlike a three-year-old when it comes to sewing experience!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Home Office

I'm very excited to go back to the classroom next year. I've been out on "special assignment" for more than three years....which is about 2 years longer than I thought I would last!

This year, sixty percent of my time is bought by a really amazing and interesting group that has done more for the teaching of mathematics (K-12) than I can possibly fathom. And the fact that I've been able to contribute to that body of work? Mind boggling.

And as much as I'm ready to get back into my very own classroom (I'm thinking 2nd grade? 3rd grade? It's more complex and sophisticated than most people realize!) there are some things I am really going to miss about this job. It's not just the people I work with; though they are amazing. It's not just the work I've been able to do with them; though it has been life-altering. It's not even all about the amazing professional opportunities, or the visibility I've earned from doing this work the last few years. Those are all great things, and I've managed to build up a nice little outside consulting business from it.

Yes, I'll miss all those things, but not one of them is the thing I will miss the most. The thing I will miss the most is working for my boss. He'll never read this, so you'll have to trust me that the only reason to mention this is to say out loud what a great experience working with him has been. He'll toss off some completely mind-blowing mathematical or pedagogical idea, and it will spin me for weeks. I can't get it out of my head, yet there's no pressure at all. He'll mention something and then be like, "Eh, maybe you could do something with that." He pays for my time, but when he wants me to do something, he always asks. "Hey, do you think you could mmm on the mmmth of next month in the city of mmm?" I mean, he's paying for me to do these things, but I swear if I said, "Oh, sorry, not this time" he'd totally be okay with that. (Of course, I'll never know if that's actually true, as I am completely incapable of telling him 'no'.) I've never met somebody so authentically respectful of other people's ideas and time and energy. I've never heard him complain or even get grumpy. This, in and of itself, is a super-human feat in the world of education.

There are plenty of times he's scheduled me to be in a town 70 miles from my house by 6 in the morning, so it's not all fun and games, and he once tried to kill me with a writing deadline that required me to work 70 hourse straight (I did manage a 45 minute nap during that time), but when he's not doing that, he never asks me what I'm working on ~ he knows I'm always working on something ~ and he never asks me where I am. I am, usually, sitting on my patio, in my 'home office'.

Getting It Done

I've learned many things from my mom, but one of the most important things is the answer to a question I hear all the time: "How do you get so much done?!?" Like everybody else I know, I don't nearly get enough done; I always seem to be playing catch-up with a set of never-ending to-do lists. And, though I will concede that some days are more "productive" than others, I have to admit that I do manage to get quite a bit done.

The day before Easter, I spent three hours at my Mom's house, cleaning her bathrooms (what can I say? She has a HUGE house! Total time spent cleaning both of my tiny bathrooms? 18 minutes.). I also boiled and dyed eggs with the kids, made up their baskets, cut and cleaned 5 pounds of strawberries for strawberry shortcake desserts, made and decorated a bunny cake, did three loads of laundry, made all the beds, did all the dishes, made a menu plan for the next four weeks, watered the gardens, made pancakes for breakfast, embroidered, and worked on crocheting Erik's blanket. I also took Tommy to his baseball game (where it was my turn to be "Team Dog" and get the after-game-snack-order in and managed) while Erik did our taxes.

I can make an equally long list of things I didn't get done on the day before Easter ~ included on that list? Clean out the car. Take a shower. ~ but it's still inevitable that somebody will ask me, "How do you get so much done?"

Here's the trick, as passed down from my mother me, and presumably from her mother to her: Stay home. Work hard.

That's it! The rest of it is the luck of the draw ~ sometimes you work hard and get so much done! Other times, you work hard, and it's just to keep your head above water. It's like my mom always said, "Every day, you go out to slay the dragon. On some days, the dragon wins."

That bunny cake was a huge hit, and it couldn't be easier to make. I think a bunny cake, once a month or so, could make anybody happy. Forget about Easter for a minute, and go make this cake..it's perfect for Memorial Day!

Just make any cake you want in two round cake pans. Allow the cakes to cool completely, while you set up a foundation (I used a particularly large cookie sheet wrapped in tin-foil, but sturdy cardboard would probably also work). One of the round cakes will be the bunny's head. Take the other round cake and cut an arc-ed section from opposite sides of the cake.

(Think of a baseball, with the stitching being the cut line.)

Each of the cut out sections becomes an ear, and the remaining inside piece of that second round cake becomes the bow tie. Decorate however you want.

Can of corn!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Easter Recap

Why is dying eggs such a fun activity? It just is. I love watching my kids dye eggs!

And hunting for them, too! One of my very favorite things that I will remember about this particular Easter (my Grandma Dot's most favoritist day!) is how sweet Tommy was, as a big brother. He showed Scotty the ropes on coloring eggs, and he was so sweet, sharing the joys of finding the eggs in our back yard. With a three year old, you can just sort of...lay the eggs about... rather than actually hiding them. So, it was with some great restraint that Tommy was able to keep himself from scooping all the eggs in plain view! Instead, he'd pick one or two, then he'd tell Scotty, "I see another egg! Can you find it?" and he'd escort Scotty to an egg to put in his basket.

It's funny, when I was pregnant with Scotty, I really worried about how it would work out, this whole having to love two kids thing. I thought maybe I would have to love Tommy less, in order to make room for the new baby. I worried I could never love Scotty as much as I loved Tommy. How wrong I was, on both counts! I fell in love with Scotty the moment I met him; just as I fell in love with Tommy the moment I met him. It was like coming up from living underwater for my whole life, and breathing air for the first time. One thing I've noticed again and again, is that watching Tommy loving Scotty, it makes me love him even more. And even though I can remember worrying, I can't remember what it felt like to worry about such things.

I'm laughing a little right now, because it's been my exact experience with labor! I mean, I know it hurt, and I can remember that it hurt, but I have no recollection of the pain itself. The memory of the pain is real; the pain itself, I cannot conjure. Have you ever watched somebody get hurt? Fall off a skateboard, or rasp their knuckles against the cheese grater? You know that feeling, where you cringe, look away, catch your breath? It's because you can totally relate to the pain; it's all empathic response. I can totally watch somebody in labor, and I feel no empathy at all. I believe them, that it hurts, I really do! But I have no empathic response, because I just don't remember it. I can't relate at all. And it wasn't because of great drugs either, as Scotty was ushered into the world with nothing but two Motrin for "pain relief". Thanks for nothing.

A new tradition I started this year was to buy each of them one of these eggs with their names on them. I got them at an ice cream shop (Yes, the same one we went to with Kelly and Moose!) and I just love them. Don't they seem so quaint, so old-fashioned?

And here you go. This is what happens when certain people get 90% of their daily calories from peeps and chocolate eggs! Major sugar crash. And some of the cutest freckles I've ever seen. :)

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Taco Night

Every Monday night Erik goes to practice with his band and me and the boys have Taco Night. I always put two sprigs of lettuce on Tommy's tacos, and he always digs through the cheese, whines, "I don't like salad!" and tries to remove it before he eats his dinner. I always say, "But you can't taste it, so why not be healthy?" And he agrees that he can't taste it, but he knows it's there and therefore life ceases to exist until the situation is remedied. So far, I've been able to convince him to leave it on there,though there's always at least one sprig left on his plate after dinner.

This Monday, I realized I should be inviting my brother over to have dinner with us. I don't know why I never thought of it before, but it's so perfect. Me and Jason got to sit around and catch up, while the kids (his two girls, my two boys, all perfectly aligned with age) ran around the backyard and had such a good time. They all go to school together, but it's different when they're hanging out after hours!

Scotty even took the opportunity to 'dress' for the occassion. Whenever there's a 'special' event, he immediately goes for his fireman outfit. The three-year-olds tuxedo? I'm sure it is.

This is my brother's youngest, we'll call her G, and she's just like my brother. Sweet, quiet, loving, and, when she's aggravated, a total punk.

We watched them terrorize the patio from our vantage point on the porch. It's hard to calculate how many variations of "stay away from the pond", "stop throwing stuff in the pond", "get that out of the pond" two adults will have to use with four children 8 and under, but suffice to say... the soothing sounds of waterfall are significantly diminished when you have to fish out baseballs, sticks, and shoes.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


I am STILL working on this blanket for my friend Maia. It's kind of taken on a life of it's own! Originally, it was a simple, patchwork blanket crocheted in chenille yarn. Yummy chenille, why do you have to be so fickle to work with?

After I finished it, it just didn't seem...special enough. Which is funny, because my mom is making the exact same blanket for her dear friend, and it's stunning in khaki, midnight blue, and forest green. I like the color pizzazz of Maia's blanket, but it just seemed...ordinary. Unfulfilled.

I ended up attaching a denim backing to the crocheted top. I decided against batting, but did find some lovely paisley in a matching colorway to patch onto the back, in my new favorite way of stretching some yardage.

I feel like I'm repeating myself. Have I written about this before? My apologizes if I'm doddering through a lengthy rerun here!

I am binding it with purple bias tape. I first tried to machine sew it. That's how I did the binding on my dad's blanket, and it worked like a charm. I used this tutorial, which I quite liked. But on this blanket, after folding it over the yarn and denim layers, it was out of control and I had to rip the whole thing out and start over. I sewed the first part on, then I've been handsewing the fold-over to finish it with a blind hem stitch. Which gives me a reason to wear a thimble. Which brings me this much closer to fulfilling my Little House on the Prairie fantasy.

I really am loving this blanket. It's so warm! And I get to cozy under it while I'm sewing, so I feel like I can say with some authority that it will be a very toasty addition to their home.

I also have an expert on hand who concurs.

Make that two experts.

Monday, April 6, 2009


Erik sent me a link to this....this....this amazing crocheted blanket. You can see more pictures here, including detailed close ups of each panel.

I am seriously wasting my life, if I'm not creating art that is this joyful, and this devoted. This thing makes my eyes water!

She documents the whole process on her blog, and links to the blanket (parts 1 - 4) are in the side bar. She uses tunisian crochet, which I learned how to do last summer. It's a lovely, perfectly square stitch. I made a scarf from some goat wool/silk blend my mom brought back from Wyoming using the tunisian process. The color change looks tricky; it's really no small thing that she did here!

A couple of years ago, I told Tommy that I would make him a hat, and he requested "A Pokeball hat,with a Master Ball on it." Ooooo-kayyyyy. Anyway, I knitted the hat in a dark green yarn using garter stitch. This was long before I learned how to knit in the round using double points, so I knitted a long rectangle, stitched up the back as a seam, and then ran a piece of yarn through the top row of stitches and pulled tight to close it all off. Then, working only off a picture, I fashioned a Master Ball and used purple, black, white and pink felt to make this...thing that you see here. Then I used a blanket stitch and black embroidery floss to sew it to the front of the hat. Tommy loved that thing! We'll have to dig it up, but I'm amazed that it's survived that last two winters in tact.

When I made that hat, I remember telling Erik that it might be the single most creative thing I'd ever done. In that, I didn't follow a pattern, and I made it completely from scratch. I was so dang proud of that hat!

But this blanket. This blanket is perfect. I think I might make one. (For Erik, but don't tell him.) Before I read her blog, I was kind of tripping out on how she made the pictures. I thought, what, did she just single crochet and then cross stitch it onto the top? It looked way too
clean and perfect for that, and the tunisian crochet she used is absolutely the only explanation for how righteous this thing is. But here's the conversation at our house this morning:

Erik: It should be easy to do, right?
Me: Wrong.
Erik: I've always said that crochet is the perfect medium for this type of project.
Me: What are you talking about?
Erik: You know, all the squares, it really lends itself...you know...it should be pretty.... um.... easy.
Me: Are you trying to expert on me about crochet?
Erik: Um...no.
Me: Good. Because you have no idea what kind of creative genius it took to recreate these screen shots, down to the last perfectly formed pixel, using only yarn and a crochet hook.

Just trying to re-create something like this will require 90% of my brain capacity, let alone what it took to create it from thin air. It's mind boggling!

Thursday, April 2, 2009


Round two! After all the bulbs prematurely sprouted and bloomed during a January 'heat wave', I was lucky enough to get a second round. These hyacinth are growing in a large pot under the living room window. They are what I get to look at when I am fumbling with keys, bags, and two wily boys at the front stoop. Don't they just make the whole struggle so much more pleasurable?

And now that it's staying lighter ~ and warmer ~ later, we've been playing outside more. Whereas I like to putter around in the garden, watering and weeding and basking in the blooms, certain people would rather do 'battle' to protect their 'castle'. As mama-to-boys, there's got to be room for both!

Here is my view, as I was cornered, during a particularly jubilant victory for the castle knights!

Oh, and why can't every night be baseball and ice cream night?? We're so glad we got to spend an evening with Moose and Kelly. Thanks for making the long drive!! Tommy won't rest until there's another slumber party, but until then we'll treasure our (shorter) visits!