Mary Oliver

"Tell me, what is it you plan to do

with your one wild and precious life?"

Thursday, June 30, 2011

College Student Request

My oldest daughter is taking a statistics class this summer and she needs some data for an assignment. Would you mind taking a quick survey using the link below to help her out?

Thanks a bunch!!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Summer List

Yes, summer is here and it is hot, hot, hot. We're trying to keep the AC set at 80 degrees and using lots of fans to keep cool. I'm also listening to Bela Fleck's Throw Down Your Heart Africa Sessions, to try and embrace the heat.

I went to the library booksale Saturday and was lucky enough to buy a copy of Sark's book, The Bodacious Book of Succulence for $1. It reminded me that I want to have a summer fun list, in addition to a summer to-do list. And although I could only come up with two goals (for now), they are pretty broad ones: Add more color to my life and add more creative time.

So after I got home from the endodontist this morning, (yes, my third root canal, thank you very much) I decided to make a bird bath from stuff we already had on hand. I may end up painting the bottom of this clay saucer to prevent the water from seeping out too quickly, but then again, it may work just fine as is. I put a couple of seashells in for decoration. What do you think? So far, no birds have been sighted, despite the stale breadcrumbs I put out to attract them. I'm thinking about making a collection of birdbaths.

Stef got home from Sicily, and she gave me this plate, isn't it cute? I love it!

I made some bread on Saturday as well. One loaf has cheese in it and the other has garlic and rosemary. I think I'm going to make some raisin bread next. This counts as a creative endeavor, I think.And despite the heat, I made homemade mac n cheese to welcome Stef home.

Last night the girls were kind of bored and so I gave them my Moosewood Cookbook and The Enchanted Broccoli Forest cookbook and told them to find something to make for dinner. Here they are working on the deliciousness that is Broccoli and Tofu with Peanut Sauce. Over rice.

It was yummy! I decided to make the Lentil & Bulgur Salad as well, since I had most of the ingredients, including some lemon infused olive oil that Stef brought us from Sicily! It's a cold salad that keeps very well in the refrigerator; perfect for hot summer days when we're trying to avoid cooking!

Finally, I'm working pretty steadily on my mom's summer sweater. Tomorrow will be one week from the start date and I'd say I'm close to half way done, especially since it's going to be short sleeved. I'm trying to stay monogamous with it, but I am really tempted to start some more new things! So much knitting, so little time, to coin a phrase.

What are you doing during these hot summer days?

Friday, June 24, 2011

Beach Week

Our family has been doing Beach Week for about fifteen years now; it's a gift from my parents to our ever evolving family and we all try to be there. As the years have gone by, the grandchildren have sometimes missed a year due to summer jobs or classes, but they come as often as they can. This is one of the reasons that Beach Week is so important to me; it's a chance for our family to spend some quality time together.

This is my very youthful looking mom and my youngest daughter, along with my mom's dog, Bailey.

And here they are having a lovely chat together, while Steve and I took a little walk. Although Melissa couldn't be there the entire week, she did have the weekend, which was better than nothing. And although most of us live within twenty miles of each other, we don't always get the kind of one on one time that we get during this week.

This year was wonderful! We had great weather, lots of family time, lots of resting, and lots of knitting! I got the stripe study shawl started, and with help from barefoot rooster, figured out how to do it. Now I've set it aside for my July train trip; I think it'll be a perfect traveling project.

I also got my niece knitting again. I had taught her a few years ago during another beach week, and she started up again this year. Does life get much better than this?

Steve and I visited The Island Bookstore in Duck one day during the week, and I saw this fabulous book.

I would have loved to buy it, but am trying to keep our expenditures down. I am putting it on my wish list however, and hope to get it for a Christmas gift. From what I saw of it, it's a great one.

Since I set aside the stripe study shawl, I decided to start a summer sweater for my mom. Knitting Addiction had their stock of Mission Falls 1824 wool and cotton on sale for 50% off, so I bought a sweater's worth of the cotton for her and about six skeins of the wool for future baby gifts. Actually, my mom bought the yarn, which made it a win-win for both of us: she gets a sweater and I get to knit it! I'm three skeins into it and hope to finish it for her within a week or two. It's actually more teal than this photo shows. It's nice having a bigger goal, now that I have the free time to work on it.Just as Steve and I were leaving last night to come home, we saw this gorgeous sight. There had been a rainstorm after dinner and we waited it out. I'm glad we did, because this was beautiful, don't you think?

Now it's back to normal. Which isn't too bad, since I have the summer off and I live at the beach!! Lucky me!

Monday, June 20, 2011

It's Vacation Time!

I'm in the Outer Banks enjoying lots of knitting, sleeping, reading, eating, and family time. Lots of sleeping. Brought my camera and computer, but forgot the cable to upload photos, so they will have to wait until I get home. Meanwhile, I'll just keep on relaxing and see you all when I return!

Thanks to barefoot rooster for the help with interpreting some of the Stripe Study Shawl directions for me!! And a thank you to Jeanne and the girls at Knitting Addiction, still my favorite yarn shop of all time. Did I mention that I got my youngest niece knitting again? She's knitting so fast, we had to make a run to the shop for more yarn. Ah, the sacrifices we make for our family. Happy knitting, y'all!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A Tulip and A Zinnia

I don't know why I haven't blogged/bragged about this particular FO before, but here is my first Tulip Sweater. I absolutely LOVED knitting it and I LOVE the finished product as well. I made a teensy error when knitting the sleeves, but I don't care.

I still love it and can't wait to knit another one, maybe in primary colors next time. This one goes in the wicker trunk where all the knitting that doesn't have a designated recipient goes. The next person who has a baby girl gets it!

The zinnia patch in one of our flower beds finally had a bloom today, which is what prompted the impromptu photo session. (Can you use impromptu in the same sentence as prompted? Hmm, probably bad form.)

Enjoy the rest of your week!!!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Brought to You by the Letter B

The final countdown is on for the end of the school year. The 8th grade dance on Saturday was lovely, as always, and tonight's academic awards ceremony was wonderful as well. I thoroughly enjoyed the exam periods today, as I was able to clear out masses of papers. At least five baskets worth.

By the way, the bread I made yesterday was fabulous!! Apparently using King Arthur flour makes a huge difference; my bread is so light and delicious. (I know, it sounds like a commercial, but I promise you, no one is paying me to say it.) I put some raisins and sugar in the regular shaped loaf, and I used our fresh rosemary on the boule shaped one. That way we had one each of sweet and savory.

And although I'm not sure when this picture was taken (last Monday?), I wanted to include it, as it shows Steve and Melissa at the beginning of a long walk on the beach. My exercise was limited to reading and knitting, equal amounts of both, I'd say. And to answer Liz's question, that's pretty much what I love to do on the beach. During the summer, I have a bunch of women from work over for Beach Fridays every week, so add talking with friends to the list. And if I'm on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, I love to go shell hunting, but our beach doesn't really have decent shells, although I do find some interesting pieces of driftwood sometimes.

***Want a great bath recipe, meant to soothe and cleanse, especially after going to the beach? Add 1 cup Epsom salts, 1 cup baking soda, and 5 drops of lemongrass essential oil to your bath next time. It's my newest pleasure!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Mostly Bread

Made bread again today. I made one loaf with raisins and one with rosemary; both are delicious! I started the dough, went to the beach for a few hours, came back and punched it down, formed the loaves, went back to the beach for another hour, then came back and baked it. Not a bad day.

I've been eating brie and ham on pretzel bagels since Thursday, when a coworker gave me one to try. Delicious! My new favorite. Now I'll have the same combo on my rosemary bread.

No pictures today; maybe tomorrow?

Friday, June 10, 2011

Busy, Busy, Busy

It's such a busy time of year. There are three school concerts, three award ceremonies, and the eighth grade farewell dance at our school; activities that are held in the evenings during the two longest weeks of the school year (at least they feel that way). SOL tests are over, and even though we give final exams, students and teachers alike know the school year is really over. We have to pack up our rooms while making sure our students have something to do that is meaningful and keeps them out of trouble. Dress code issues have gotten a few of my female students in trouble, bringing bad attitudes to the surface, but other than that, this has been the best year I've had for over ten years. Maybe my best year ever!

I've been researching the route my dad and I are taking on our train ride; I'm pretty excited about seeing some areas of the country I've never visited before, and am planning to take a lot of pictures. Of course, I've also been thinking about the knitting projects I should take with me. My oldest daughter suggested lace weight yarn, which makes sense, but I'm not a big fan of it for some reason. I can knit socks, but I want to take one or two other types of projects as well, so I don't get bored. But I also need something that doesn't require too much concentration, so I don't miss all the scenery right outside our windows. So far, I'm thinking about the Stripe Study Shawl and the Storm Cloud Shawlette . Meanwhile, I'm trying to make myself finish or frog my collection of hibernating projects. (Except for this scarf, that I started while sitting in the waiting room of Patient First with Melissa tonight, but that's another story.)

The weather this week has been horribly hot, with at least two days of heat and/or air quality warnings. About the best our air conditioner can manage during these temperatures is to cool our house down to around 80 degrees. Needless to say, I'm not motivated to turn on the oven when it's this hot, so we've been scrambling a little for our dinners. Monday night around 10 p.m., I decided to make a couple of grain-based salads from Vegetarian Times. One was a combination of lentils, cucumber, and dill, and the other had chickpeas, tomatoes, and feta. Both were good, but nothing special, which led to Steve and I going to Subway for dinner Wednesday night. The best meal of the week was last night, thanks to the Asian Bar at Harris Teeter. I bought Kung Pao Tofu and it tasted fabulous! I can't wait to go back for more. I did make an impromptu pasta dish tonight using a bag of frozen vegetables and penne pasta that was good. I'm going to try a few more hot weather recipes this weekend. What are you eating in this heat?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Jumping on the Bandwagon. Or Train.

So, my summer vacation is coming up and my father and I have decided to take a train out to Arkansas to visit the relatives. It was actually my mom's idea and she is thrilled to stay home, as she's been making the trip by car for oh, about fifty years now. Oddly enough, Dominique Browning just wrote about taking an Amtrak trip over at her blog. You should definitely read about her experience traveling across country with her grown sons. While my dad and I aren't going across the entire country, we are going across about a half of it. We will be on the train for about forty-five hours each way, giving me some amazing quality time with him. And ever since I spent a month in England and was introduced to traveling by train, I've wanted to repeat the experience, and now I can. As an added bonus, we'll have a five hour layover in Chicago, a city I've always wanted to visit. I'm hoping we can dash out somewhere for an hour or two, so if anyone has any suggestions, please let me know!

Speaking of jumping on a train (or a bandwagon), I must be the last person on Ravelry to start one of these. I can't tell you how many of them I've seen in the blog-o-sphere lately, and I really wasn't planning on making one until I started thinking about what kind of knitting I needed to take with me. Something I could do while looking out the windows and talking. You know, the perfect project to take on a two day train ride, lots of sitting around listening to family stories once I get to my destination, and then a two day trip home. I think it might be the perfect large project; add a couple of skeins of sock yarns, and I should be all set.

Meanwhile, I have to finish out the school year, and Nance over at The Dept of Nance, wrote the funniest piece about how teachers feel at this time of year. Read it, and remember to treat your teachers well. Because we make this. And this is who we are.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Modeling the Handknits

I got my youngest daughter to pose with some of my most recent finished objects; she's a much prettier model than I am! This is the Blueberry Sauce Hat I made with Shelter.

And here is a great photo of the French Press Cowl, using Berrocco Vintage. After trying a number of different lacings, I decided to go with an i-cord, as it seems to be the most comfortable. But I still like the idea of using different lacings, especially if you are the adventurous sort!

I still love the Crow Cowl best; it looks like cables but it's not. Very ingenious!

Such a cutie!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Bay Breeze

Sometime Thursday night, the wind shifted and we're now on our second day of blissful, low humidity weather. We turned off the aging air conditioner as soon as we woke up yesterday and opened all the windows to enjoy the cool bay breeze. Which makes these photos all the more out of place, but I wanted to share them anyway. I washed all the woolies we used this past winter so I could pack them away. This is the pair of handwarmers Meredith gave me for my birthday; aren't they lovely? She chose waves to mark my love for the ocean.

Here are various scarves and cowls; the red lace and the blue striped cowls were also made by Meredith.And here are a few hats and a pair of mittens. The hat on the far right is the most recently knit baby hat, ungifted as yet.When we took our walk on the beach last night (well, Steve walked and I sat and knit), I took my knitting in the bag Meredith made for me for Mother's Day. It's reversible and the perfect size for most of the projects I knit.Here is a shot of Steve heading out on his walk; isn't it gorgeous? This is the progress I've made so far on the Saroyan shawl. Right after I took this, I realized I had dropped a stitch about five rows down, so I spent the time frogging and reknitting. But I'm back on track with it now and am in the straight section.I've included a few shots of the lab I did in science class on Thursday and Friday. The students had to design boats so they would hold the maximum number of dice without sinking. They had to "build" one boat at a time, test it, then go back to their group to modify and improve the design.

This one was a contender, but the winning boat actually ended up holding twenty-five dice! Water + kids = Success!

And I liked it too, so much so that the next day we did it again, only this time we compared the bouyancy of water compared to salt water. I love science!!

Now Melissa and I are headed to a friend's house for an outdoor pizza oven party! Hope the rest of your weekend is a lovely one.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Rainforest Weather

Holy moly, it's been hot around here. Hot and incredibly humid, so much so, that we had an air quality advisory day today. And of course our undersized air conditioner isn't keeping up very well, worrying us with its imminent demise, at the very time when we cannot afford to replace it. So Steve and I had salad for dinner tonight as I couldn't bear the thought of cooking anything. All I really wanted to eat for dinner was frozen yogurt, but I decided to be mature and eat salad instead. I wish I had the energy to make up a bunch of cold grain salads, but really, I'm such a slacker right now.

Last night I met my youngest daughter at the Naro to see the movie, Win Win; I loved it! Such a sweet movie, much better than I expected. See it if you have the chance. Because I had a late night, I had to take a nap after work today. I'm such an old lady these days.

I washed my woolens this weekend in order to pack them away and somehow I have lost the gray Crow Cowl I made. I'm hoping I've simply misplaced it during all of my "organizing", but I really think I've looked everywhere. Hopefully it'll show up eventually.

Our SOL testing season is finally over, leaving us with two weeks of school left with students who are convinced we're done for the year. Not the best of times, to be sure, but I plan on doing a couple of labs with them before starting the exam review in the hopes that we'll all be happy. In addition, I need to pack up my classroom, as we are getting a new principal, which means room and assignment changes may be on the horizon.

As for knitting, I'm mostly working on cotton washcloths, as that seems to be the only thing I can do right now. That, and napping. Hang in there everybody, only two more days left this week!