Mary Oliver

"Tell me, what is it you plan to do

with your one wild and precious life?"

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Best Laid Plans

I've been pondering a change in our eating habits lately, mostly by rereading my old copy of Fast Vegetarian Feasts and The Enchanted Broccoli Forest. When we had the power off for thirty six hours a couple of weeks ago, it provided the perfect opportunity to ditch some (all) of the things in our refrigerator that needed to get tossed. Having more time to cook in the summer (provided I'm actually home more than two out of fourteen days) coupled with the amount of fresh produce available, including Steve's garden, means this is a great time to revamp the pantry and menus. (The word menu implies I actually plan meals but one can always strive to do better, no?)

So today, per the suggestion in FVF, I bought a dozen wide-mouth Ball jars and went to work filling them with some of the staples necessary to cook the way I want. (Bonus: I also got to use my label maker!) Things like wheat berries, bulgur, barley, couscous, and a nice variety of rice and beans. Stef went with me to the farmer's market, where we got some produce, and also organic butter and tofu.

Of course, Steve and I ate out tonight. But there's always tomorrow!

Busy as a Bee

This summer has certainly started off busier than I had planned, although in a good way. I was only home for two nights from the Outer Banks when I left town again, this time headed west to Blacksburg. My youngest, (that's her in the middle), had invited me to come to her film premiere, so of course, off I went! She was a camp counselor for a two week Virginia Tech program, called Blacksburg Stories, that teaches middle school students how to create documentaries. This is the title of her group's film.
The local independent movie theater, the Lyric, hosted the premiere.

It was so amazing to me to see her interact with her students and their parents. A proud moment for this mama.
The rest of the time I was there we just hung out, crafted, watched movies, ate out, and relaxed. So nice.

On Monday, we drove to Floyd (a small town known for The Crooked Road Music Project) and shopped at School House Fabrics, a three story fabric store, housed in an old schoolhouse. I lost count of how many rooms there were after twenty, and each and every room was crammed full. Overwhelming, although we did buy some fabric to use as curtains for Melissa's bedroom.

On the way back to Blacksburg, we stopped at a natural foods store. We wanted to eat at their cafe, but it was closed on Mondays, so we were out of luck.

I liked this mix of coneflowers and black eyed susans.

I left Tuesday morning to drive home and treated myself to lunch in Crozet at the Mudhouse. Delicious iced tea and a lemon iced, vegan ginger applesauce cake. Yummy.

Now I'm home and need to photograph the yarn I bought from Mosaic, as well as the progress I've made on the baby blanket. I think I'm up to fifteen squares now, which leaves ten to go plus the seaming and border. I'm also halfway through a Noro striped scarf with half priced yarn I couldn't resist buying while I was out there, despite my Noro stash at home. But half price? Who could resist? Not I, that's for sure.

I go back for my second endoscopy tomorrow to check on the healing progress of my ulcers (the ones that were found in April). So Stef and I are going to hit the video store today before she goes to work, so we can have some movies to watch while I lounge on the couch afterwards. Expecting good news, so I'm not worried a bit. And since the weather here is finally dropping from the high 90's, it should be a good day to putter around. I think we're going to hit the farmer's market today as well. Hope your day is a good one too.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Photo Sharing

Isn't this tomato gorgeous? Stef took a couple of photos in the garden before we left last week and I wanted to share a few.

She does some good things with my camera that I don't seem to be able to accomplish, like this beautiful macro shot.

Steve planted sunflowers this year and I love them.

Here's one of the few pictures I took on vacation. For some reason, I just didn't take too many this year, maybe because the beach photos always look the same. This is one taken in early evening.

And this one in the glare of the day.

I started and finished a basic baby boy hat for my niece to take to a friend of hers.

And this is the market bag I'm working on, although it's slow going on size 15 needles cause my hands hurt if I spend much time on it. Love the colors though.

Knitting Addiction has started carrying Classic Elite yarn, so I picked up a skein of soft yellow,

and one of gray. At $11 for almost 500 yards, I think it's a great deal. I'm thinking shawlette or scarf, or maybe one of each. Easy on the hands for sure.

This stuff I bought because of the shop sample. It's a Blanket Buddy, made from 101 Designer One-Skein Wonders. So, so soft.

And I bought these two skeins on impulse, but the little bit of knitting I tried with it didn't make me happy. I hope to find something to make with it but I'm not sure just yet. Exactly the type of purchase I don't need to make, eh?

And for something completely random, this is adorable and it seems that this style of t-shirt is so popular right now!
Now back to cleaning up the house (although since Steve did a fabulous job while I was gone, I'm mostly puttering) and repacking for my trip to Blacksburg tomorrow. But first, a little nap.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Back For A Bit

Ok, so I'm back from the family vacation, but I'm taking off again on Saturday to visit my youngest out in Blacksburg, so not much down time at home just yet.

Oddly enough, I didn't take many vacation photos this year. Maybe because this is the schedule I followed most days:

  • Light breakfast

  • Beach time (8:00-11:00 a.m.)

  • Shower

  • Breakfast/Lunch

  • Book store/coffee shop or yarn store

  • Nap time

  • Beach time (after 2:00 p.m.)

  • Shower

  • Dinner

  • Beach time (6:00-8:00 p.m.)

All in all it was a very relaxing time, we had gorgeous weather, and I got to spend time with my oldest daughter and my youngest stepdaughter, as well as my mom, dad, sister, and nieces; today was incredibly hot though, so hot in fact, that I only did one beach stint.

With all the beach time, I managed to read three of the six books I brought with me, plus one that I bought while I was down there.

A Disobedient Girl--a riveting plot that had a twist at the end; I highly recommend it.

All the Living--a sparse book that was very readable; reminded me of another author, who's name escapes me, although the blurb suggests Marilynne Robinson's style, so maybe that's it.

Girls In Trucks--I liked this, but I felt like I had either read some of the chapters in short story form or I had tried to read it before and skimmed a lot of it. Good, but not as good as the other two.

The Likeness--I loved this one; it's the follow-up to In the Woods, which I also loved. A densely written mystery set in Ireland that kept me up late reading it, just like her first one. So, so good.

I also bought yarn, but I'll show those off tomorrow. As for the actual knitting, I started and finished a baby hat for my niece to give away, I finished a baby sweater that had been languishing in my UFO pile, I started a cotton string bag but it made my hands hurt so I put it aside, I started a pair of handwarmers, but didn't like the pattern so I frogged it, and I finished three more squares for the baby blanket. Not too shabby.

Now I'm going to try and cool off, as it's still over 90 degrees outside (at 10:00 p.m.) and hovering around 80 degrees inside. Summer hit us fast this year.

PS Playing around with Blogger's new templates; what's your opinion?

Thursday, June 17, 2010


Tonight is the last post for a week, as I'm going on vacation without the laptop. The beach house has internet, but I'm going to skip it.

I'm having a terrible time deciding what knitting stuff to take. The clothes I'm taking are in the washer, the books are stacked in the book bag, but I'm completely stymied about what to take in the knitting category. Weird.

While trying to decide last night, I picked up an unfinished baby sweater and worked on it, but now I need another skein of yarn (which I may have somewhere around here already) to do the sleeves. So I'll probably take that. But what else?

Meanwhile, the students' last day was today and it went smoothly. Lots of tears from the 8th graders as they leave middle school behind, but not too terribly many from the teachers. At least not over the kids. We shed our tears at our farewell luncheon for two retiring teachers, one of whom has stage 4 lung cancer. Very tough to deal with, especially as she's had a setback and was looking awfully worn down. And is now on oxygen.

Makes my knitting "problem" seem rather petty.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Eating the Refrigerator

Remember when we had that Nor'easter here back in November and we had some damage to our house? Well, after a number of setbacks, Steve has decided that this would be the perfect weekend to fix it. The guy that is doing the work is coming on Saturday, which means the power has to be cut off on Friday and won't be back on until Monday. Steve has implied that I would be less than pleasant without air conditioning available, so he has kindly offered to suffer on my behalf.

It just dawned on me yesterday that because of this, we have to eat everything in our freezer/refrigerator before Friday! Yikes! So last night I broiled the mahi mahi and salmon that was in the freezer, microwaved a couple of bags of vegetables, and made some rice to go along with it. An unexpected feast at this time of the school year.

Random link:

These jeans look so cool; I think my youngest would love them.

SO glad I posted about my packing yesterday, otherwise I would have forgotten my beach chair! The house I'm staying at has beach chairs available, but of course mine is my favorite. Thanks for the comments! As for the books I listed, I meant to link them so you could read the blurbs, so here they are again.

All the Living, by C. E. Morgan

A Fortunate Age, by Joanna Smith Rakoff

A Disobedient Girl, by Ru Freeman

The Wish Maker, by Ali Sethi

Atlas of Unknowns, by Tania James

And trust me, it's doubtful I'll get through them all. It's similar to the knitting I'll take with me. I'll buy something (or two) at Knitting Addiction and work on that instead!!
Now I'm off to give my final exams. Three more days!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Getting Ready

Yesterday I started thinking about what I would pack for beach week. This is really unusual for me as I'm the kind of traveler who throws things in a bag on the morning of the trip, but for some reason, this trip is different. And even though I always take books and knitting wherever I go, for this trip I always take more of both. I'm going to have at least one large bag of books and one large (maybe two) bags with knitting, and one smallish bag with clothes and sunscreen. At beach week, clothes are the least important thing to pack.

I remember a family vacation we took when I was sixteen; we went to Arkansas to visit family and stayed with them at a lake for a week, water-skiing and swimming all day. I don't think I came out of my suit except to sleep (and that was because my mom made me) the entire week. It was blissful.

Anyhow, I'm leaving from work on Friday around noon and heading down to the Outer Banks for a week with my family. My parents rent a house every year (this is either the 9th or 10th year) and my sister and her family and I and my family are included. I've had to wait until Saturday the past few years due to graduations, but this year I get to leave on Friday. And since no one from my family is going on Friday, I get to go earlier than usual. Steve is bring S down Sunday night (she has to work the weekend), and Mere and R are coming on Saturday.

I picked up the supply of books yesterday from the library. This was the group I had reserved after reading a copy of Poets & Writers a week or so ago.

  • All the Living, by C. E. Morgan

  • A Fortunate Age, by Joanna Smith Rakoff

  • A Disobedient Girl, by Ru Freeman

  • The Wish Maker, by Ali Sethi

  • Atlas of Unknowns, by Tania James

I also have a bag of books that are more in the "beach book" style, that I picked up at the thrift store and library book sales over the past month or so. Those are the kind I usually take so I can just leave them there when I finish them, but the library books are calling my name this year.

I think tonight will be about getting my knitting together. I know I'm taking the baby blanket squares and I think I'll take a couple of UFOs just to see if I can get motivated. But I'll also be visiting Jeanne's shop so who knows what else I'll end up with.

Oh and the clothes? I'll pack those Friday morning, as usual. What kind of packer are you? List maker or a throw it in the bag packer?

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Random Post Alert

Here are some of the projects I graded yesterday. Most of them were pretty good and some were amazing. The students were required to have one page for each letter of the alphabet, and each page had to have a science term from this year's content, an illustration, and the definition of the term. They could use computer or hand drawn images and/or lettering and they had to have color

I liked his title.
This title is a good one too.

Notice whose skull is being x-rayed?

This book was my favorite; the student is artistically talented.

I love the size of this boulder coming at the little house!

She had a nice mix of computer and hand drawn.

I thought they did a nice job and I plan on assigning this project again next year, as the students enjoyed it and I think it achieved my objective of making them review for the final exam.

I finished the mitered hand towel from Mason-Dixon; I like the colors but they look washed out here.

Now I'm working on another juniper bonnet to give my hands a rest from the thick cotton. S picked out this color combo, but she told me she wished I had reversed the main and contrast colors. So if I have enough peach left, I'll do another one. I love this pattern.

And to round out the randomness, here are some links for you to follow.

Scroll down to see the way this blogger stacked a suitcase on the trunk. That's the look I'm always going for and somehow failing to achieve.

I really like this notebook. S needs a new one to carry to work so I might try it.

I think my girls would like this bracelet. I'll have to send them the link and see.
Hope you have a relaxing Sunday. (Did I mention I only have four more days of school?)

Friday, June 11, 2010

Recovering From a Busy Week

I took the AVID class on a college tour yesterday. It's really a great opportunity for these students to get them thinking about their future. But riding a school bus for thirty miles? One way? Not so good.

I really would like to make these coasters, but I don't know if I'm up to learning a new skill (crochet) just now.

Speaking of making useful items, I was finishing up a hand towel in class (the kids are doing projects and I'm monitoring from a distance) when one of my students asked me what it was. When I told her it was a hand towel, she asked me if I knit all my towels and "stuff". I told her no, but I could tell she was feeling kind of sorry for the poor teacher who couldn't just go out and buy ready made "stuff". Too funny. I was going to post a photo of it, but I have to do a re-take tomorrow with better light.

Steve and I dropped S off at work this morning and then wandered around a bit, but now we're home just puttering around. I'm grading my end of term projects and Steve's napping in the chair. Grading projects is usually a pain, but these are actually interesting. I assigned an "ABC Book of Physical Science" and gave them five days of class time to work on it (a key factor if you want completed projects, and perfect for this time of year). I think I'll take a few photos and post them. I'm definitely keeping some of the best ones to show next year's group, as this project will be a keeper.

That's about it for the weekend plans. Started another Juniper bonnet using stash yarn to give my hands a rest from the cotton knitting.

Only four more days of school! (Don't hate.)

Too Much Going On

I had a lovely day with M2 & S on Tuesday. We hung out at home, went out for lunch, did some thrift store shopping, and then came home and sat on the deck and enjoyed the beautiful weather. I scored a number of things that I'll have to photograph soon, but more importantly, I got to spend some time with my girl, even if I'm sadder after she leaves than I was before she came, if that makes sense.

Chelsea had a lovely post about seasons and cycles that resonated strongly with me as this is the time of year I end up feeling cranky and stressed, and today/yesterday/tomorrow is no exception.

We have a number of students on out-of-school suspension (OSS) today due to a food fight in the cafeteria yesterday. Also, a couple of girls went home on OSS yesterday due to treating a substitute teacher disrespectfully and then giving me loads of attitude about it. Should be kind of quiet on our team today as a result. I'm actually going on an AVID field trip to a local university today, so that should be fun, if a little hot. This will wrap up the week of crazy overscheduled school events. Only next week left before summer, and it goes without saying that I can't wait!

I'm hoping to make it to our local WWKIP Day this weekend. There's one in Williamsburg on Saturday and one in Norfolk on Sunday, so maybe it'll work out. Hope your weekend is a good one!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Skipping School

I'm skipping school today to spend time with M2, who came home for a very quick visit. This is the week at school that I have an end of the year celebration obligation every night, so I decided the only way I was going to get to see her was if I took a day off. Not exactly a hardship on me though. Right now she and S are still in bed, so I'm puttering around the house enjoying the quiet and catching up on some odds and ends.

M2 really liked the changes I made in her room. I have started to use it as a sewing room, so I put a desk in there and moved a few things around. I didn't want her to feel I was pushing her out of her room but she's rarely here anymore, especially since she isn't going to be home this summer, other than a visit here and there. So I am glad she was okay with it.

I finished the Petal Bib the other day; it was a quick knit, but I'm not sure I'll knit many more as it had fourteen ends to weave in! This doesn't show the true color but it's a pale mint blue/green. I also made another washcloth. Not exciting but my favorite beach projects; small and cotton. I used the same yarn I always use, Plymouth Yarn's Fantasy Naturale, but this color was a departure from my normal color palette. I tried to give it to my mom, but she said she has enough washcloths. How can you ever have enough I wonder? Into the wicker trunk it goes for future gifting.

Actually, I'm thinking that if I knit the petal bib again, I'll use some of this yarn, as I like it better than the Rowan cotton. Maybe because it's mercerized? I'm not sure I know what that means but it must mean something, right?

Hope your Tuesday is a good one!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

More Crafting

The 8th grade dance went really well; it's always nice to see the students dressed up and on their best behavior, and this year's group was especially nice.

Steve was sweet enough to go with me so we made it a date night, complete with dinner out and a browsing trip to B&N.

Today was as hot as yesterday, although there was a breeze, even if it was a hot one. Two friends came over and we sat on the beach for a couple of hours but other than that it was a stay-at-home day.

I made another bathmat this evening. I was going to make all the stripes skewed, but Steve requested some straight ones, so the three on the top are for him, and the three on the bottom are for me! I am supposed to topstitch around the edges but it's too thick for my machine. I think the towel I used was a better quality than the first one.
My youngest is coming home tonight for a couple of days. I haven't seen her since March, which is way too long, so I can't wait!! I have end of the year school functions every night this week, so I'm taking Tuesday off to spend some time with her, even though I'll have to work that night.
It's almost summer!

Saturday, June 5, 2010


Kind of a stressful day yesterday, so I ended up going to bed early and getting about ten hours of sleep. I thought I'd end up awake around 3 a.m. but it didn't happen; guess I needed the rest. I also thought I'd have tons of energy today but I'm feeling pretty low key, and I'm okay with that.

I finished the Juniper Bonnet last night. I can't quite visualize how it'll look on a baby but I did love knitting it. Now I have to find just the right ribbon for the eyelet at the bottom. Rowan's Milk Cotton was a good choice of yarn I think, nice and soft and drapey. This hat also uses a Rowan yarn (I think), the denim one. Or maybe it's not Rowan. At any rate, I love this yarn but I'm not loving the hat. I'm thinking of frogging and using it to make a sturdy bib. Opinions?
But the big crafting success of the day (so far) is the bathmat from SouleMama's Handmade Home. I've been stockpiling sheets and towels from the thrift stores for months now but for some reason was hesitant to start cutting them up. I finally took the plunge this morning.

It provides some much needed color in our bathroom. The store-bought rug I'd been using was white, which not only stayed grungy looking, but didn't add any color contrast to the floor. What I was thinking when I bought it remains a mystery to me.

You can't see it in the photos, but I used a fancy cross-stitch setting on the machine and followed the fake rick-rack design to add stability. The pattern suggests you add strips of towel on top of the cotton, but I didn't want to cover up the sheet pattern. I have some other sheets that are much more washed out looking that I plan to use and I'll do the towel strips on those.

It's a gorgeous day and I was thinking about going to the beach, but it's insanely hot outside. I don't seem to have much energy despite the extra sleep and I have to chaperone the 8th grade dance tonight, so I think I'll just relax in the AC instead. And maybe do some more crafting!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Garden Photos

S took my camera outside last night and got snap happy, so I thought I'd share a few.

This is one of the rosebushes Steve planted last year.

Here is the row of sunflowers. I love how you can watch them turn to face the sun if you pay attention.

Blueberries on the blueberry bush!

Butterfly bush flower.

And my favorite shot, a bee on a stalk of lavender.

Should have titled this post, Busy as a Bee, huh?


Treats are good. My husband thinks I treat myself a little too often, but I disagree. Here are a few treats I gave myself this week:

  • Participating in a pickup faculty kickball game--despite being out of shape and lacking athletic skills, I did it for the fun. And it was. Even though I still ache in places I had forgotten could ache.

  • Sitting at Elliot's on Tuesday reading a copy of Poets & Writers that was there and listing authors I want to read. My list includes Douglas Glover, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Nicola Keegan, Reif Larsen, Ru Freeman, Ali Sethi, and Joanna Smith Rakoff. I have never heard of any of these authors but like a good treasure map, one never knows what gems one will find. Also on the list are these titles: All the Living, by C. E. Morgan, Atlas of Unknowns, by Tania James, and Men & Dogs, by Katie Crouch.

  • Sex and The City 2--didn't think I'd like it but I saw it with a group of women for a birthday get-together and it was fun. Fantasy, but fun.

  • Spending my $10 thrift store gift card (frequent flier punchcard). Bought a beat-up wicker trunk and five magazines at bargain prices. Who cares if the Coastal Living magazines are six years old? I sure don't.

  • Enjoying mint tea at Elliot's after work on Thursday while waiting to pick up my stepdaughter from her job. And talking with her before heading home to fix our delicious vegetarian dinner.

What did you do to treat yourself this week?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Winding Down and Loving It

I can tell the year is winding down; the school year that is. This year is so much better than last year for a number of reasons, with the result being I have more energy! Now that SOL tests are over, I have my students doing group projects in class, which makes it fun for them and less work for me. My science classes are making ABC books about the topics we studied this year, with each page having a picture and definition. It sounds juvenile, but it is helping them review the material for the final exam. I wish we didn't have to give exams but we do, so review we must. My AVID class just finished up a month of literature circles, which are sort of like having five book clubs going on in one room. I had four groups of four and two groups of five, reading a total of five different books (each group read one). Now that they're done, each group is going to create a culminating product to showcase their book. This will not only help me out this year, but I'll use the products next year when I do booktalks for the new AVID group.

Creativity is showing up at home too. I am knitting on a bunch of different things (don't judge), and the latest is the Juniper bonnet using a skein of rose-colored Rowan Milk Cotton. So pretty and old-fashioned looking and an enjoyable pattern to follow too.

I'm cooking some too. I've pulled out my battered copy of The Enchanted Broccoli Forest Cookbook and am planning to try at least one recipe a week. Maybe more once school's out. Last week it was the Broccoli & Tofu in Spicy Peanut Sauce (delicious!) and tonight I made the Mushroom Yogurt Pie in a Spinach Crust. It was quiche-like, except it only required one egg and used yogurt instead of cream or milk. Also, very, very goood. I'm hoping the slice left over will make it till morning so I can have it for breakfast.

Other recipes queued up from the book are: Savory Vegetable Cheesecake, Mushroom Mystery Casserole, Pasta w/ Artichoke Hearts, Marinated Pasta Salad, and Moroccan Orange-Walnut Salad.

What are you cooking up this week?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Testy Tuesday

Not to be cranky, but I thought the idea of having a magazine subscription was so you got it earlier than the general public. Mere told me she saw the Summer issue of Interweave Knits at least two weeks ago and I just got mine today! Anyone else have that problem? Or care either way?

Going back to work today after the three day weekend was smoother than I expected. After I got home, I straightened up some of the yarn piles and rearranged my needle jars. I have four categories of needles now: the rooster holds the tall straights, metal and wood alike, the seahorse container holds the shorter straights, again, a mix of metal and wood, a clear green vase holds the longer dpns, and a striped metal pencil box holds the short dpns. It's amazing how much fun I had doing that. I did work on the petal bib from One Skein. Thanks to the miracle of online tutorials, I can now purl 2tog through the back loops, although it was a big pain for me to do so.

Random links:

I really like this idea, both as a way to use some of the piles of fabric (sheets) I've been buying and also as a really cool way to take food to potlucks.

I like these but I doubt I'll make any, although I guess you never know.

Now I'm off to bed so I can get up early for the last SOL test this year. History this time, so no stress for me. I plan to knit another baby hat while proctoring. Our faculty is playing a game of kickball after school as a stress reliever. Fingers crossed that I don't injure myself