Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Just Another Week in Paradise

My face is glowing. My heart is pitter-pattering. I'm walking about 3 inches off the ground.

I guess I should explain.

I've just gotten back from farm country. America's heartland. Paradise.

I've told you how I LOVE big, wide open spaces. Well, I had all the big, wide open spaces I could ever want.

Here are some scenes I'm holding in my heart.

Wooden swingset overlooking miles of open farmland:

Lush, green grass and sweet flowers:

3 barns full of piglets, translucently pinky-white,
slightly fuzzy. They are Wilbur.


Prairie lakes dotting the landscape:

Even more enjoyable up close!

Rich, black dirt, bright green crops rolling
into the distance
. . . not a billboard, skyscraper,
or another house to mar the view:

Arabian horses to befriend:



And maybe even ride:

Long, winding dirt roads that seem never to end.
Roads to take you home . . .
and hopefully bring you back again.

(Do I hear John Denver in the background!)

Monday, June 28, 2010

Try, Try Again

Aaah, this family of 7 has just arrived home from more than a week of traveling up to Minnesota and back.
Yes, that would be 24 hours up and 24 hours back . . . driving in a van . . . 7 people . . . all together . . . small space.
So, you are asking, what did you find to do for those 48 hours? So glad you asked, because I need to tell you that instead of giving up on my plan of having a cotton market bag, I instead am trying, trying again. This time in yellow; this time with needles instead of a hook.
You can find the pattern here.

For the yarn, I chose Cotton Twist by Berroco in a warm, golden yellow and spent the entire trip silently cursing it. It is terribly split-y and then it has a single, slender strand of rayon twisted into it that gives it a lovely occasional touch of a shimmer but is horrible to knit with---splitting, fraying, and catching all over the place.

::Sigh:: Sorry to be negative, but those are the sad facts of this yarn.

Other than my yarn angst, the bag is really fun to knit but for me would be best knitted in total quiet and solitude. Of course, this was a total impossibility in a van . . . with 7 people . . . for 48 hours.

I would just be getting a "slip, slip, knit, yarn over" accomplished, avoiding a split, avoiding a catch of the rayon, avoiding the needle sliding backwards out of my hand, when a voice would call from the back:
"Youngest Daughter just dumped an entire box of crayons out by mistake and they are now melting in the back window,"
"Oldest Son has fallen asleep and his 6'3" frame is invading the entire length of the backseat, causing the two of us sitting back here to have difficulty in sitting upright . . . staying strapped . . . breathing.

And the "slip, slip, knit, yarn over" would have to be abandoned to right wrongs in the rear of the van. And who knows exactly where my mind would be when again taking up the knitting.
So it is with great delight that I can report that this pattern is quite forgiving with the occasional mistakes, mess-ups, and misadventures that may occur in its creation.

(Please note the splits, fuzzes, and catches in this picture.
Don't ever knit with a shimmery strand of rayon
twisted into your cotton yarn.)

Hopefully I will shortly be able to show you a completed knit cotton market bag. And when it is filled with organic lettuce or library books or balls of yarn, you'll never notice all its imperfections.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

With Love to My Neighbors

Can I just say that I am sooo thankful to my neighbors this year!

Because they have planted flowers!

And so as I go on my morning walks, and the sun is just tipping over the roofs of the houses, I can enjoy all colors of orange, yellow red, purple, pink, and white in the beautiful morning light.

Would you like to see what I've planted?

Mmm-hmmm . . . that's it this year. Downright pathetic.

Which is exactly why I'm so delighted that I have neighbors that love flowers and plant flowers and tend flowers.

And let me enjoy them.

Sometimes on my walk I remind myself that this exquisite garden belongs to a couple with no children at home and this lucious layout belongs to a family with a professional gardener and this showstopper has a man of the house that is as passionate about gardening as my husband is about golf.

It's good to keep it all in perspective.

And enjoy the good gifts of His creation . . . right in my neighbors' yards.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Summer Job

When your sons are 14 and 15, it's high time for them to be getting a summer lawn job.

As we fought to get the mower in the van, parceled out responsibilities, and broiled in the 95 degree sun, I began to realize what a learning opportunity a summer lawn job could be. Working together on a job can bring out:

selfishness, laziness, lack of cooperation, pride, self-righteousness, anger, frustration, stubbornness, impatience . . .

And that was just me.

The boys, on the other hand hung in there and did well with just a few attitude adjustments.

After a while, we did a little Job Suitability Assessment and the trimmer-person became the mower-person and vice-versa.

This made an astonishing change in the large swaths of grass that the mower had been "missing" and the great chunks of grass that the trimmer had been dislodging at the driveway's edge.

We each have a skill and a place where our skills are needed. And don't things go more smoothly when the two are working hand in hand.

Goodness, I was proud of them. My two teenaged boys . . . working hard. And if there were a few moments when one almost pitched the lawnmower and one wanted to trample the trimmer, well no one is going to hear it from me.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Wherein I Come To Peace With Split Pea Soup

(An apology in advance for the poor quality of pictures.
There was not one scrap of natural light anywhere in sight!)

Do you remember my guest bathroom walls? The burning red, the lime granita, and finally the split pea soup?

No, of course you don't. You've been busy living your own life. I know. I know.

But I just thought since I left you hanging on the cliff like I did, that I would tell you that the split pea soup walls turned out just lovely once they were all painted. And here are a few "tah-dah!" pictures to show you the final outcome.

The room was inspired by these fabulous photos that I won in a blog giveaway on Rare and Beautiful Treasures. The photos are from the Etsy Shop of Craft Therapea. Aren't they fabulous.

I thought it would be easy to find an 8 x 8 frame in which to put them. Not so. Since I didn't want to pay for custom framing, I did find 12 x 12 frames that are meant to frame scrapbook pages. I found beautiful sheets of 12 x 12 scrapbook paper that look like an old hand-written letter and laid the 8 x 8 pictures on the paper and then in the frame. I love the look.

All the brushed nickel holders, hooks, bars, knobs, and fixtures were sanded primed and painted with Krylon's Oil Rubbed Bronze spray paint. You can't tell from the pictures, but instead of it being a flat black, it has a golden shimmer to it . . . really beautiful.

The mirror is an antique mirror passed on to me by my mom and dad. It also got the Oil Rubbed Bronze treatment.

Under your feet is a wooden floor mat with a black fabric binding.

And to finish off, I found these shore-themed nic nacs either in the house or at Hobby Lobby or TJ Maxx. Love the serene feeling of the shells.

Love how this turned out. Love how Oldest Daughter stuck with me and repainted . . . twice. Love how I won the giveaway that inspired it all.

Just loving this rarest of moments when everything comes together just like I hoped it would!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Spa Washcloth

I've been looking for a pattern for a spa-ish washcloth, and I've found just the perfect one.

Actually, no, it wasn't perfect. I fiddled with it and reworked it a little, and now I do think it is the perfect spa washcloth.

I used an eco-cotton that has just a little acrylic added so it has a little "scrub" to it, not the soft silkiness of a pima cotton. After all we want to slough off that dry skin and expose the dewy cells underneath, right?

You would like the pattern too? Of course, glad to share.

It's below. It works up quickly and is a perfect little project to practice some very simple "lace" stitches.


Spa Washcloth:

On US 6 needles, cast on 35 stitches.

Rows 1-4 - Knit

Row 5 - Knit 3; * yarn over, knit 2 together. Repeat from * 14 more times; knit 2.

Rows 6, 7 and 8 - Knit

Continue Rows 5 through 8 until spa washcloth reaches approximately 6 1/2 inches, ending with a Row 8.

Final 2 Rows - Knit.

Bind off, weave in ends and trim.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Kids in Nature

As delightful as camping was for me, nothing, nothing can top the joys of seeing your children interact with nature!

Could we just have a moment of reverent silence for the wonder of experiencing a week without screens, hand controls, or ear buds!!

Yes, thank you, we can.

The river ended up being the source of all things fun and delightful.

To begin with, you had to ride to the river . . . use your own muscles. No rolling along in an air conditioned van.

Once there, you had the option of swimming, jumping from a high rock ledge

into a freezing cold deep pool

or playing at shore's edge, creating masterpieces of unknown significance, purpose, or origin.

The river has created it's own perfect skipping rocks, making for another hour of enjoyment.

Or you can totally remove yourself from all sense of sanity and go tubing.

We did. It was 10 in the morning, damp and grey.

The air was 71 degrees. The water felt like 51 degrees. Not another soul brave or foolish enough to be out on the river.

My rear end felt like it was going to freeze and my feet went numb.

It was magical.

(I do so wish I could say that the tan legs with the perky blue Crocs are mine, but,
unfortunately, mine would be the white legs in the soggy tennis shoes. ::sigh::)

And then there were the falls, where the boys slid down the side on long rock slides, into a deep pool.

And other parents looked askance and wondered to themselves what mother would let her kids slide so recklessly by the falls.

And I looked about blankly and pretended not to know whose kids they were. Nope, never saw them in my life.

And after she got over sobbing about the injustices of not being able to slide by the falls at age 6, Youngest Daughter found fun of her own and skipped over little pools and breathed in the spray and the mist of the blasting falls.

And when each day was over and Nature had worn my kids out to the consistency of wet noodles, they went to bed exhausted, watched over by a "kid's best friend," and got enough sleep to have the strength to get up and do it all again the next day.

And that, my friends, is just another reason why I really, really love camping!