Mary Oliver

"Tell me, what is it you plan to do

with your one wild and precious life?"

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Happy Birthday Mere!

Although this photo was taken on her birthday last year, I think it captures her spirit.
Happy birthday to my first-born daughter!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Fabulous Friday

What a fabulous day today is. It's Friday for one thing, the beginning of the weekend, and a three day weekend to boot. And I am feeling good. I got the results of my students' performance on the science standards test and 100% of them passed. I've always had a pass rate of 90% or better, usually over 95% even, but I've never had 100%, and does it feel good. Validation is a wonderful thing when you can get it.

On to the knitting. This is the Natalya hand mitt, the third in my handmitt series. The yarn seems to have good stitch definition and it seems like it will be a classic addition to just about any type of winter coat. It's pretty but I'm not thrilled with it; maybe the yarn is boring?

Icing on my cake though? This gorgeous handspun yarn that Rudee sent me! I got it in the mail yesterday afternoon and photographed it this morning on the back deck before I went to work. It's called Crazy Woman, which is an absolutely perfect name for the way I've felt the last couple of weeks. It's beautiful and so, so soft.

I'm keeping it in this vase until I decide what to make with it. Anybody have any suggestions? It's going to be for me, I know that much. Meanwhile I think I'll keep patting it as I go by it.

That's pretty much the extent of my weekend plans; fondling yarn and reading. Bring it on.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Brought To You by the Letter S

A scarf for a friend's upcoming birthday. She's a fan of pink and green. This is the Ole! yarn I bought at MDS&W; I liked the colors but it's not a very soft yarn. I think she'll like it but probably won't like wearing it.
Stressed about the science SOL test tomorrow! Yikes!

I think there was another S but now I've forgotten. Sleepy, maybe?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Wrapping Up A Weekend

Whew, tough week. Tough weekend too in many ways. But things are looking up now.

How do you like my little garden flag? I bought it last week when I bought a couple of flags for retirement gifts and it makes me smile.

I just finished making/eating/cleaning up dinner. I made Broccoli-Tofu Stir Fry from The Enchanted Broccoli Forest cookbook and it was yummy. Doesn't look so pretty, but it tasted great. I also made cornbread with green chiles and cheese. Double yummy. I bought this book at a used bookstore and I love it, even if I don't cook from it enough.

I've decided to knit one hand for each of the hand mitt patterns, then go back and finish the seconds. I think this will keep the boredom level low. Mere thinks I'm crazy. We'll just have to wait and see who is right.

So, following my plan, after I finished one of the Susie's Reading Mitts, I knit one Give A Hoot mitten. And since I didn't check gauge, and knit the pattern blindly (without modifying for length) it's too small for an adult. So I either rip out the top and add some length, or gift it to a child. Have to think about it. Suggestions welcome.

Now I'm starting Natalya, only I'm not doing the separate fingers, just ending it even. Personally I'm enjoying the idea of reading all these different patterns, rummaging through the stash to match them up, and locating needles. (Actually, locating needles seems to be an issue; most of these call for #8 dpns, which amazingly I can't seem to locate in my copious needle collection. At least the patterns that match the yarn I have, as I'm a huge worsted weight fan. And did I buy #8 dpns from my latest KnitPicks order? Of course not.)

This looks so cute. And I may digress a bit and knit this baby bib to add to the baby gift collection in my trunk. Mere just knit it and now I want to too! Cause that's how I roll.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

A Thumbs Up!

S was my hand model for the first handmitt in my project series. What I love about this photo?
The fact that she has her own knitting project on her lap! The Blooming Cotton Scarf by Eunny Jang.

Oh yeah, resistance was futile for this one.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Books and Yarn, Two of My Favorite Things

I've been reading a bit lately. I just finished the last of the Jacqueline Winspear series, which I really enjoyed, and I zipped through This Side of Married, which I bought at the booksale (or was it the thrift store?). It was a really enjoyable read, funny, poignant, and real. I also just finished Louise Erdrich's Shadow Tag, and like all her books, it was fabulous, even if the topic was a little unsettling.

I'm going to reference this list as I read this summer. And this one. Or better yet, the mother lode list. There's something about reading lists that I just love. They're like a treasure map, always leading to more and more books, a never ending discovery, if that makes sense.

I've also put together most of the handwarmer project bags. I have ten patterns printed out, each in its own ziplock bag, and I've matched up yarn for seven of them so far. I actually started the first one at school today during testing! It's Susie's Reading Mitts, by Dancing Ewe Yarns, and I'm using some fuzzy Baby Alpaca Brush, in red no less, that I had in my stash. That's the real point of this idea, to use some stash yarn. As I said the other day, I'm planning to take these to the beach house vacation next month and get a head start on Christmas gifts!! Here's hoping, anyway.

Speaking of summer, just saw this recipe, courtesy of a link from At Upper Pond. Hope I can mix up a batch this weekend! Reading blogs can lead to so many good things!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Festival Saturday

S came home from GMU around midnight Wednesday but since my week was so busy, I only got to visit with her an hour or two Thursday and Friday before limping off to bed.

Saturday was our planned family day and what a busy, wonderful Saturday we had! Steve, S, and I started out the day picking up breakfast sandwiches at Panera Bread, then S & I had our hair cut.

After we were all prettied up, the three of us went to the Portsmouth Book Sale, where I apparently decided to stock up for summer reading!! After that we were getting hungry again, so we swung over to the Greek Festival, a favorite of me and my daughters, and now a favorite of S's too! I've taken her every year since I've known her and luckily she got home from college in the nick of time. Unfortunately M2 didn't make it home yet since she's doing a summer school class; I think this is the first year she's missed out.

Here's the beer cart, wheeling past the incredibly long food lines.

People love the Greek food!

A great photo of Steve and S.

As usual, I ran into a couple of friends while we were enjoying the lively music. After we were revived with the spanakopita, baklava, greek salads, and a few other tasty treats, we headed over to the Stockley Garden Art Show. It's held twice a year, May and October, in a beautiful Ghent neighborhood, and benefits Hope House, a foundation that helps support adults with special needs. They also run a thrift store year round but this is a big moneymaker.

This apartment building caught my eye because of the display of shells.

And I thought this door was just lovely too.

One area of the green, with the artists' tents.

After we finished browsing there, we drove over to Elliot's, our favorite free trade coffee shop. These mosaic steps at the shop are what I'm hoping to reproduce on our front porch one day.

On our way home we decided to hit a thrift shop where I found this pretty bowl.

We finally made it home around 6 p.m. and sat on the deck perusing our "new" books until I could no longer keep my eyes open. I took a nap at 7 p.m. which meant I stayed up until 1 a.m. But it was a great way to spend a gorgeous May Saturday.

Friday, May 14, 2010


I don't have another picture of the sweater to post, but I did finish the button loops Tuesday night in time to gift it on Wednesday. I didn't like the look of the loops but left it too late to do anything else with it. They just made it look lumpy to me, if that makes sense, but of course everyone at the shower was complimentary.

I'm so glad it's Friday I can hardly stand it, although my weekend is looking just as busy. I work until 8 p.m. tonight at a school function and tomorrow there are two booksales and the Greek Festival that S and I want to attend. Steve will go to the booksales but he's not crazy about the Greek Fest. Then on Sunday, it's another family birthday, my niece's 21st. Still haven't figured out what to buy her so that's on the to-do list as well.

Headed out the door now with muffins for my peeps (team members). I baked a batch yesterday as thank you gifts for my AVID tutors, and one of my team mates was so disappointed they weren't for us, so I'm trying to make it up to her. She's the math teacher and she's WAY more stressed about the upcoming end of year tests than I am, so this should help.

Have a happy day!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Crazy Busy Week

It's the countdown to the end of the school year and that means crazy time. I have to stay after school for something every single day this week, which is a little daunting. Yesterday was an AVID meeting, tonight is the NJHS induction, tomorrow is a baby shower, Thursday is a retirement thing (which I'm missing because it's my dad's birthday), and Friday we're doing a Spring Fling, which required teachers to make a basket to raffle off, make a cake for a cakewalk, and stay on a Friday night until 8:30. All this and SOL tests coming up. Stress inducing for sure.

Not a lot of knitting going on last night, none in fact, but still a little at school during homeroom at least. My mom loved the Mason-Dixon washcloth (pink) but didn't seem as thrilled with the starfish as I expected. Go figure.

I thought I had linked this before, but I couldn't find it, so here it is. Recycled juice bag sunshade for your car. I have a student who is giving me her bags, which is very nice of her. I'm hoping to have enough by the end of the year so I can make one. Imagine Steve's surprise on finding a pile of them drying in the dish drainer this weekend!

Now I'm off to my physical therapy, although at this point I'm thinking a little mental therapy may be a better idea!!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day to my mom, my daughters, and my step-daughters. I wouldn't be the mom I am without them. Each of them still changes me everyday in some way and I'm grateful to and for them all.The roses are called Fourth of July roses and Steve and I saw them yesterday on our visit to the Norfolk Botanical Gardens. We went for a plant sale but as the plants Steve wanted were sold out, he was rather disappointed. But the roses were lovely.

As for my gift to my mom, I am so pleased with how the starfish washcloth came out! I'm pretty sure she'll love it as she loves beachy things as much as I do. I'm giving her one of the soaps I got from the MS&WF; it's Lavender Mint and smells just lovely. I'm trying to finish one more cloth, Mason-Dixon's ballband in pink and pastels, but I'm cutting it close, so these may be it. Plus a lovely plant that Steve bought her.

Random notes:

I also am pretty happy with this "new" bedspread. I bought it a month or so ago from the thrift store planning to cut it up and use it to make a rug or two, but after I washed it, it looked so nice that I decided to use it in our bedroom for a summer look. Gotta love thrifting!!

And here's the finished (except for button loops) baby sweater; can't remember if I showed it with the bobble buttons on. Baby shower is Wednesday, so if I'm making the loops, I better get cracking!

I also love these hearts, although I don't think I'll be able to do one in time to gift it to my mom.

My oldest daughter has been making yogurt recently, and I thought this post had some good information about it. I may try my hand at it this summer. I really should try and improve my diet, since I have so many digestive/intestinal issues.

The weather today is absolutely gorgeous, upper sixties. It's so nice, I already weeded and mulched my two little front gate flower beds. After yesterday's hot, windy day, it's extra nice. Steve and I went to the beach in the afternoon and it was like being in a sandstorm, not nice at all.

Whatever you do to celebrate today, I hope you have a good one.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Handwarmer Club

I think this picture that S took at the MS&WF is so good that I wanted to post it again. I love the composition and the way the light looks.

I've been feeling pretty low lately and I've been trying to figure out why. I really think I'm struggling with the myriad of ailments I've been having to deal with and all the emotions that are surfacing as a result. It occurred to me yesterday that I may be dealing with something very close to grief. I've been mad and now I'm kind of blue and tired and I'm thinking that sounds an awful lot like a couple of stages of grief. So what am I grieving for? I'm thinking it's about aging and the changes that my body is undergoing as a result. Now I have to think about a plan of action for getting to the acceptance stage. (The ulcers prevent drinking as a means of coping by the way, but other ideas are welcome.)

Meanwhile, I still have knitting. And thanks to a combo of posts from Knithound Brooklyn and Yarn Harlot, I'm thinking about creating my own personal handwarmer club. These would be the perfect projects to take down to the beach house next month. Of course, I already said that about the baby blanket I'm working on, but I'm clicking right along on that so I may need something else as backup. I've printed off about four new (to me) handwarmer patterns, plus the two or three favorites I've already used (Toast, Fetching, Maine Morning Mitts, and Dashing), and now I just need to bag them up with the appropriate yarns. I may get to that this weekend, and if so, photos and details will be posted. I may include a few hat pattern bags too. Getting a jump on Christmas gifts when one has five children/stepchildren, plus a few of their significant others, and a couple of nieces to knit for is always a good plan.

Edited to add the patterns I'm thinking of using (so I don't forget!):
Looks like fun to me!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

MS&WF Recap

The only complaint I had about the festival was the heat, which is obviously out of anyone's control. It did keep my yarn purchases down I think, as it's hard for me to think about wool hats, mittens and scarves when the temperature's over 90 degrees.

This is one of the purchases I didn't make, but now wish I had. I think the container on the right would have been perfect for my aluminum needles. Oh well, next time.

These little alpacas looked so strange to me with their long, almost giraffe-like necks.

At least they weren't as hot as these two babies were.

These sheep were out of the sun and didn't seem quite as uncomfortable.

These two clearly didn't want the paparazzi's attention.

This is what Steve looked forward to eating, but it was so hot, he didn't even bother. S, our youngest vegetarian, was glad to be spared the sight.

I made sure to go into the building with the finished projects; I missed those at Rhinebeck. This lace shawl was much prettier than the photo shows.

And this afghan was so amazing; I can't even imagine the hours that went into creating this. See the blue square with the crab on it, representing Maryland? Not sure what the brown blob is, but love the crab.

A nice surprise for Steve was the gardening vendors. He was able to buy some heirloom plants, which made him happy. S carried the bag of yarn and soap for me.

On Sunday, we drove into Baltimore and wandered around Fell's Point. One of my favorite browsing stores is Su Casa, where I fell in love with this doormat.

They also had this picture frame made out of little scraps of fabric all sewn together. Kind of cute although I probably won't make it myself.

This is one of Steve's favorite places to go. He could spend hours in here.

We walked down Aliceanna Street to A Good Yarn, a really small store that specializes in classes more than selling yarn.

I can't remember the name of this vegetarian place but the smoothies were awesome. I had a Chamomile Cooler, the one with the lemon on top.

I had taken a picture of the chalkboard to help my memory, but it doesn't show too much.

Now I'm off to the couch to work on my mom's Mother's Day gift. Pictures of that later!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival

Not the cleverest of titles, but it is accurate.

First, the sheep. My stepdaughter took some lovely photos of the sheep. I'll put more of them up tomorrow, but here's one example. This group was inside with a fan, so were relatively comfortable. The ones outside looked like they were hyperventilating because it was so FREAKING HOT!!!!

Here's some wool. S is really interested in spinning, something I've been avoiding for quite some time now.

And here's a lovely bag my husband bought for me, so I could carry a few things around.

Like these three skeins of wool from Carodan Farms.

And this mohair blend. I bought this yarn from Kiparoo Farm because a friend of mine loves the pink and green combo.

I bought this yarn from Persimmon Tree Farm for S; we're thinking a hat? Maybe? It's so soft and pretty.

I bought this little skein of angora for my oldest, M1, from Aboundingful Farm. She loves the rabbit yarn, of which there was very little to be found at the sheep & WOOL fest.

Finally, the soaps. I really would have loved to buy one soap from every soap vendor, but they do add up. I bought two of the Vermont Goat's Milk Soap, although one stayed at GMU with the stepdaughter. Aromatherapy. To help her cope with exams, you know. The shrink wrapped one in the upper right hand of the photo has an embossed sheep on it. It came from Kiparoo Wool and I think it's pretty darn cute. I'm planning to give it to my mom for Mother's Day. The two soaps from Leslie's Garden really made the yarn bag and truck smell great. I'm pretty sure I'll be ordering some more from her. Although S wants to make soap this summer, so maybe I won't have to!

I'll have to write more in another post about the actual experience, but know that it was very, very, very hot. Nice. But hot.