About me

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Yarn Along: Irony

::the shawl::

I cast on the stitches for this shawl over a period of three very interrupted days last week.  It wasn't particularly challenging, just a lot of stitches and a lot of little people needing things right when I would sit down.  It's the same cotton yarn as the blanket.  I ordered this brick red color first, and then thought it was the wrong red for my sister-in-law.  After texting back and forth with my sister-in-law about it (Bless her!  She assured me that either would be just perfect.), I ordered the brighter red (for the blanket) and decided to use this brick red for a shawl.

It has been such a quick knit, despite the drawn out cast-on, and fairly simple.  I blew through the whole first season of Poldark while I knit the lace chart.  I'm just beginning the short rows, which I find a bit of a challenge.  I can't even count the number of times I've had to re-knit the short row sections of sock heels, and this has ever so many more stitches.  Fingers crossed!

::the book::

I'm taking a brief break from A Dance to the Music of Time to read one of my library holds: The Shallows.  Irony to put it in a blog post? Yes.

 My sister and I have been talking of late about social media and the distractions of the internet.  My husband and I were slow to connect and didn't pay for internet service until 2010, which happens to be the year this book was published; before 2010, my husband had access at work, and I trucked to the library for occasional emailing.  I've been treading a narrow path since we went digital, trying to use the internet as a tool, and keep it from using me!  Most days, I'm not very good at it.  I've found myself retreating from social media from time to time, just to stay focused on the important things right in front of me.  It's a slippery slope: checking a text turns into checking Instagram, a favorite blog, the timing of an expected shipment...twenty minutes later, I ask, "What am I doing again?"  It's humbling and frustrating, and I've no doubt many others have the same struggle.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Yarn Along

::  I finished the blanket, and it's sitting on a shelf, wrapped in brown paper, and awaiting the birth of its recipient.  I wish I could deliver it in person!

:: the sweater ::

I played yarn chicken with this one, and I won! My sister passed down 140 g of mystery worsted weight yarn a while back; I had no idea of the actual yardage.  It feels like wool?  I cast on for the sweater in the 18 month size, and had just enough to make 3/4 length sleeves.  The thermometer dips a bit lower every day, and leaves have begun to fall from our apple trees, so Little M will be wearing it soon.

:: the book ::

Still chugging away at this book, although I haven't taken as much time to read this week.  What I've read so far, though, has been excellent.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Summer Doings


We became accidental tomato farmers this summer.  Raising our two dozen plants was one of my favorite activities all summer long, and since we know next to nothing about growing vegetables of any ilk, it was a Grand Experiment. Despite getting them into the ground in the last days of  June, and employing questionable watering, fertilizing, and caging techniques, all of the plants are still alive!  We've even enjoyed the fruits of our labor in salads this week.

For every tomato we'll harvest, an equal number have been destroyed by pests.  In fact, the war against hornworms has given me an impetus to be outside in the heat and humidity, rather than crouched over the nearest AC vent.  Twice a day I get out to go over the plants, taking our whole troupe with me.  The kids play in the yard while I examine each leaf, but I can only spot hornworms when they're as big as my fingers. The other morning I found seven, five on our tallest plant alone! The boys fight over whose turn it is to squish them, and how they should go about it. Shoe? Bike wheel? Big stick? I'm not squeamish at all, but I'm at my limit for green, oozy caterpillar guts. When I close my eyes at night, I count hornworms!  Next year we'll try neem oil. (When I find hornworms covered in braconid wasp cocoons, I leave them alone.  The wasps will do our squishing job for us!)

I have been itching to make little dresses since Rae released her Geranium pattern.  With the birth of Little M, I have been scratching that itch!  For Z, I have been making simple skirts, using the whole width, selvedge to selvedge, of whatever fabric she chooses. (She's too big for a Geranium!) She has wanted to match Little M, and we've had such fun!  She and I talk about making some Washi dresses for her, too.  Daydreaming about adding to my own wardrobe, also, has made the thought of weaning Little M less bitter.  I keep promising myself that once my body has stopped changing from bearing and nourishing babies, I will make myself some clothing.  Although, if I could, I would bottle up the feel of chubby baby arms wrapped tightly around my neck, and put it on a shelf, for later.

My hair is the longest it's ever been, which feels like some sort of milestone.  Fr. G cut my hair two years ago, right after I found out I was pregnant with Little M, and that's the last time it was cut!  I keep thinking I'll get to it, but keep forgetting.  I'd love to keep the length; I'm also tempted to do something drastic.  It's probably best I steer clear of the stylist until I can stop dithering.  For now, my new hairstyle has been a simple bun, held up by a scad of bobby pins.  I shed them all over the place, reminding me of Helen de Vine, in one of my favorite books.   Hmmm...maybe I'll go get that book off the shelf.  I think it's time to read it again.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Gentle September

This school year has begun so peacefully, so gently.  The weather cooled last week, and the humidity abated so we were free to intersperse outdoor time and lessons.  A friend, and holder of a PhD in Education, asked me this summer what my philosophy and curriculum were like.  Had we tried many things?  Yes, we have, I answered, but after several years of living this homeschool life, the "school" boils down to two things: reading good books and being outside.  (I think I shocked her!)

I spent the summer reading and organizing and rethinking our space.  The best decision I made was to move our school "room" into the sunroom off our kitchen.  It's where we spend the most time anyway.  I got a small Ikea table for the boys to share with me so that I can facilitate their lessons, and there's a couch and love seat so we can read comfortably.  The room is always bright, and come the dark winter days, we'll have plenty of natural light.

On Labor Day we went on our first family hike in, gosh, I don't know long.  The jewelweed and thin sunflowers were in bloom along our path, and the river below the dam was low. Little M sent us into fits of laughter as she tried to keep up with everyone. Her fluffy hair bounces as much as she does when she runs!  The children and I have been going on and on about all of the bald eagles we'd seen at this spot in the past, but Fr. G only saw one when he was with us.  November is supposed to be the very best time for spotting eagles here.  They return from their summers up north and fish below the dam then, so we'll have to plan another outing with the whole family for a cool November day.

With the reprieve of the heat and humidity last week, I've craved hot tea.  (Although I'm savoring my last afternoon frappés.)  Really, I just love seasons and the way they change.  I could never decide which is my favorite!

Our three boys have finally found a game they can all play: Old Maid.  Who'd have thought that Old Maid could lead to such hooting and hollering? 

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Yarn Along

Linking up with Ginny

::the blanket::

This is for my brother and sister-in-law, who are expecting their first baby sometime next month.  They live in California, hence this cotton.  It is so soft and squishy!  I'm tempted to make one for Little M in the shell color way, especially because it's such a quick knit. I knit almost the whole blanket while watching the first season of Occupied with my husband, and have one more evening of knitting before I bind off!  When I'm finished, I have a couple of little projects for Little M to work on before I begin two rather large Christmas gifts.  This is my favorite time of the year to be planning projects.

::the book::

Now that the school year has started, I can devote some time to reading for pleasure, rather than feverishly attempting to pre-read all of my children's assignments.  (Although I'm still doing that, too!) This book is a gem, paced like a slow waltz: when I pick it up, I join hands with the Four Seasons in Poussin's painting.  It's one I'll be savoring for a while.

Saturday, June 28, 2014


I've been daydreaming about this soup since T's godmother made it for us during Lent.  Every time I'd head to the store with the intention of purchasing the ingredients, I'd be discouraged by the price tag.  This past weekend I decided that we needed something a little special to get us out of our (actually my) food rut, so I splurged on scallops and shrimp.  Wegman's had some large bags of each at decent prices, so we have plenty for another batch.  Yum.  After following Giada's recipe with minimal tinkering, I decided that the following is an even better version.

3 Tbsp olive oil
2 large bulbs of fennel, sliced
4 shallots, sliced
1 medium onion, sliced
4-5 garlic cloves, crushed
sprinkle of red pepper flakes
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 1/2 cups white wine
3 cans of clams with juice
1 pound uncooked shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 pound of uncooked scallops

Sauté fennel, shallots, and onion in olive oil for 5-10 minutes.  Add crushed garlic, tomato paste, and red pepper and sauté for an additional 2 minutes.  Add tomatoes, wine, juice of canned clams, water (I added a cup at a time until it looked right to me), and salt to taste.  Bring to boil and reduce heat to low.  Simmer for a half hour.  Add clams and scallops.  Cook for one minute further before adding shrimp.  Turn off heat, and serve when shrimp and scallops are thoroughly cooked, being careful not to overcook the shrimp.

A couple of notes:

I went easy on the red pepper flakes so my most sensitive children could enjoy the soup.  My husband and I add extra to taste.

Z requested that I use an immersion blender to disguise all of the veggies.  I didn't, but if I had, I would have done it before I added the clams.

We didn't add fish(totally forgot), but that's also a possibility during fasting periods that allow fish.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

{a little wordy}

I got a new chain for my favorite cross the other day; the old chain had survived a couple of grabby babies before G yanked it from my neck last summer.  When I wear a necklace, I tend to leave it around my neck always, fiddling with the chain or the cross whenever I'm nervous.  After the long absence of its comfortable weight, the chain feels good--like I've slipped on an old shoe.

Today I was thinking about other things I've let sit inactive for a long period of time. (Like a certain blog?)  The world is so crowded with things to do!  Aside from the daily care of my babies (large and small), home, and relationships, there are books to read! Projects to sew! Sweaters to knit!  Lessons to prepare! I've had quite a bit of difficulty lately narrowing my focus to just one thing, mostly because I want to do everything simultaneously and. right. now.

I did manage to gather all of my powers of concentration to make a quilt for Z's first decade.  It wasn't quite finished in time for her birthday, but I sewed last hand stitch this afternoon.  She wanted it on her bed right away, but I think there are still a few threads to snip here and there.  Z helped make many of the fabric decisions, and most significantly the fabric for the backing.  It's challenging to give up the control of making to an almost ten-year-old.  She and I differ widely in our preferences. The backing fabric is from JoAnn, and definitely not one I was drawn to among all of the choices.  An older woman, far more experienced in quilting than I, saw us deliberating over all of the fabrics and took charge.  She examined our quilt sample and began to pull bolt after bolt from the shelves, explaining each choice.  While I was beginning to get nervous about the mess we were making, Z zeroed in on one particular fabric and proclaimed it "the one."  The woman was ecstatic about it and went on about how it would bring the quilt together.  I wasn't so sure, but decided to defer to Z, the quilt recipient.  She chose well, and the back does indeed look all the wonderful ways that woman said it would.

I've also recently gotten my first Soul Gardeningand have read and re-read it.  It's taken me four children to settle comfortably into the vocation of motherhood.  Notice I didn't say "excel at" or "love every day of."  But I no longer feel like I need to be raising children and doing something worthwhile on the side.  Raising children is the something worthwhile.  Period.

B, never the sports fanatic, is following the World Cup and referring to the Greek team as "we."  As in, still sweaty from his run, "Let me have the computer so I can see how we're doing!"  We tied with Japan, which is not good news.  And I suppose he's now Dr. B--officially.  He defended his dissertation in November, but walked at graduation mid-May.  Every time I see the photo of our family (taken by my mother-in-law) it puts a smile on my face.  It's so typical!  B is saying something to M and T, who are paying more attention to G.  Z has a 20 lb. book in her arms, and is the only one looking at the camera.  I'm...?  No idea.

The photo of Super G was taken by a friend at our playground.  I say "our," but it's just the one that our kids request every time we get together.  A few days after this photo, he had a cape mishap and had to get stitches in his lip.  Weirdly, it's in the same exact place that M had to get stitches a few years ago.  The photo was also taken a few days before his first haircut, so between the lip and short hair, he looks so different.  His words have absolutely exploded.  Every day brings a few new ones, and today he learned the Greek for "myself"-- as in "I'll do it all by myself, thank you."  I hardly know him!

Some of these photos are a bit of an Instagram rehash.  Sorry about that.  There just don't seem to be enough hands or moments to whip out the camera.