Wednesday, March 29, 2006

march memories

Krawuggl has reminded me to think back and remember fond memories of the month. In this way, what is remembered, lives. In a space of gratitude and happiness I remember...
the most amazing weather. Seven days of snow (not in a row). In several hours, we will have beat the record for March rainfall - EVER. It is absolutely dumping as I tap this, but here we are, snug as bugs, nesting quietly to the hum of the generator. Princess #2 knows where "wektwistery" comes from: "The sun, Mama."
Hence the hum. Making toast was the last straw.

And speaking of cooking, I loved how I was baking more in March. Hey, when you're training for a half marathon, you need more carbs, right? I also love how the girls were helping me in the kitchen too. Horsey girl can whip up just about anything she wants now with minimum help from me. It's also taught her about fractions better than any book could. She adores her Joy of Cooking and I may have to get her her own copy for her birthday. And P. #2 was into it too, crafting biscuit men, and emulating snow with flour in the process.
The sweet promise of Spring, and my daughter's hands...sometimes they look downright edible.
And the promise of new creative endeavors, as witnessed by the wonderful gifts received. Can you find the socks in this bowl of alpaca?

Beauty is everywhere...grab a spoon.

Monday, March 27, 2006

bunny love

LinkNever turn your back on bunnies. This could happen to you. Actually, I had a blast sewing up these darling wee bunnies. Princess #2 helped pick out the tails and the bows. (Oops, forgot to get a shot of the tails.) I love how these turned out and they will be perfect Eoster gifts for friends and family... they are 100% reused materials, and no two are alike. All lined up like this I'm thinking: bowling for bunnies, anyone!?

Angry Chicken was talking about her favorite cookbooks, so I had to get my two cents in.
Here's the old version of the Anna Thomas book. I agree, the picture is MUCH better, as is the commentary inside I might add. I got this out of the FREE pile at my local favorite thrift store. I don't actually cook out of it too much, but it's a great read, and it has terrific menu ideas for dinner parties and such.
Here's a classic, and one that I DO use quite a bit. My favorites are the Greek lentil soup, the rice-lentil poulou, and a vegetable medley with green apples and dill. This is also very entertaining to read, but not as much as the first version....which, sadly, had fallen completely apart when I finally threw it out! Laurel is a beautiful hippie living an idyllac life in Berkeley, raising her kids in a co-op complete with the cat under the wood stove. I wanted to be her back when I was home with my two big girls, washing my own cloth diapers, baking bread for the Farmer's Market and raising most of what we ate. *sigh* I miss those times!
I was a vegetarian for six years, but started craving meat with my second baby. Now I'm married to a veggy and enjoy cooking some of those old favorites again.
I consider this book my Bible. The cover has long been lost so here's a shot of the title page. The key words here are "short order" - meaning tasty, wholefoods recipes using fresh ingredients that are very, very quick. I highly recommend this book! I ordered mine years ago from the publisher, and have since seen it at the flea market once or twice. It has EVERYTHING, all kinds of ethnic recipes, wonderful soups and casseroles, and it's all made without refined ingredients too (whole grains, honey, etc.)

OK, I'm hungry now! Gotta go start dinner!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006


Last night was the Team in Training Cause for Celebration party. It is here we finally get to see our teammates in normal clothing, all showered and everything. There was wonderful food, lots of laughter as we all swapped stories of the rigors of training and got really excited about our events.

I was even more excited to present Bridget with my little gift.
She loved it, in her sweet and enthusiastic way. She kept giving me lots of hugs, and the poncho was perfect for her - soft and warm, it was perfect for her to cuddle up in on her Mom's lap for the evening. I felt so good about it!
You see I ended up making all the fringe the same kind of fuzzy pink. I don't think there's a single organic strand in this project, which makes it perfect for lots of washings and wearings. And I get the feeling she's going to wear it a LOT.

I was so happy to hear from Bridget's father, Vince, that they had recently celebrated a whole year of Bridget NOT being in the hospital! It was so inspiring to see her, innocent and brave, embracing life in the face of a life-threatening disease.

Did you know that leukemia is the number one killer of children? You can help! Please click on the Team In Training button in the sidebar. Together we can work for a cure!

On the way home from the party, HOW THRILLED WAS I to receive my last (*sniff*) fabulous package from my Secret Pal. I was very ritualistice about opening it: had to put away the groceries and tidy up, get myself a drink, and slowly and carefull reveal the contents of the box:
Not a great pic, but you can see (against P. #2's finger painting) a lovely handmade angel cloth - so sweet! A gift bag of travel sized hand products (boy do I need those! I almost gasped when I was helping one of my students read today - pointing to the words for him - egads! Are those MY cuticles?!) And in the bowl, too dark in this picture, some very lovely, very very tiny seed beads in shades of purple. Hmmm, how did she know the 6sox socks this month had beads?!

OK, and here's the Grande Finale, and proof that I think she really does like me!
SHE MADE ME SOCKS! My Goddess, she made me socks!!! And not just any socks, warm, beautiful socks that fit me perfectly and make me drool at the expertise exhibited here. How in the world did you do that toe? And the gorgeous lace pattern?! You better believe I wore these to school today - with my Keen mary janes, so everyone could admire my luck that is Beautiful Handmade Socks made just for me.

So...what can I say? My Secret Pal experience has been nothing short of wonderful. I got a great pal who really knew what I liked, seemed to enjoy compiling her gifts, and in general just spoiled me rotten. Now, if I could just figure out who she is!

She sent me an email....she likes "old numbers and the color blue", and she has the same birthday as me, August 17th. Secret Pal, I give up! Anybody have a clue?

Friday, March 17, 2006

in the pink

A closeup shot of the Bridget Poncho. I hope to finish it up by Monday night and present it to her at a special celebration of Team in Training. Yes, I'm sure you recognize some of this from my garter stitch scarf! This has been a real stash buster for me, and even more will be reduced when I get the 5" fringe done around the edge...I'm thinking of alternating some of these colors. And wouldn't you love it, if you were nine?
Here's Tara, an doll long abandoned by P. #1 and brought to light again this past weekend. Horsie Girl dug her out of the back of the closet and spent a few hours admiring her delicate form and trunkful of lovely clothes (the older girl never really did play with her.) Then she approached me with the idea of making furniture....and of course I just couldn't resist cutting up an old cardboard box and letting her choose the fabrics to stitch up this fantasy bed. I have an old Simplicity pattern for this and a whole roomful of furniture: loveseat, ottoman, chaise, dressing table with stool, etc. etc. Look for more accoutrements to come. What a great rainy weekend we had.
And look what came in the mail! All this great stuff came from one of my favorite catalogues.
(Oh and when you click on that link, try not to swoon...and don't think I'm not gonna steal that felt bunny-and-bag idea.) I stumbled upon a terrific blog a few weeks ago and instantly bonded with this woman... anyone that has as big a love of amanita muscaria as I do has to be a soul mate, right? Oh, you love these cute mushrooms too!?
First there's the wonderful knitting mushroom, just the classic spool knitter, but so comfortable to hold and immediately absconded by the 11 yo girl who kept saying over and over, "I am SO glad you got this, Mom!" And for the littlest munchkin, mushroom tiddlywinks. Who would have thought this game has been around for centuries! Such fun! And best of all, this delicious book was half price.
I used to be somewhat (wild) mushroom phobic, and felt nervous about handling them, much less eating something so....earthy. I know that sounds strange coming from a Pagan; part of Earth Wisdom is using caution with such powerful entities. But this book is helping me embrace them. The pictures are all gorgeous woodcuts, and there is folklore, science and gathering tips galore. Come to find out, I could probably be making a fortune from the chanterelles alone growing in my backyard.
I did see an actual Fly Agaric on a hike in Colorado once. They are even more magical in person.
If you really want a rush, check out these. Got to try that needle felting kit!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

but can she knit?

Hard to believe this started out as a knitting blog. But yes! This sock doesn't have a mate yet, but with any luck...this is one of the famous Birthday Socks, also known as the Olympic Failure socks. Dh seems enamored so far. Get a load of those arches!
I'm also halfway through the knitted poncho for Bridget, my little honoree who has leukemia. I decided to make it a stashbuster project, and so it's turning out quite interesting. If you'd like to help find a cure for leukemia, click on the TNT button in the sidebar.
Here's a picture of our house last weekend. Due to the inclement weather I've been unable to blog - we have to save power while the sun shines! Notice the dogs on the left...they have had a blast in the snow, my Airdale mix seems to love chasing snowballs and looking comically confused when he bites into them - what happened?!
This picture was taken from the newly cleared corral spot. We have almost 20 acres here in the Santa Cruz mountains, three sides on State Park land, one side on a timber preserve - our little piece of paradise.
This is the little bag I ended up making for my friend's daughter. It was a stream of consciousness pattern, no measuring, no real plan other than to make it fun and pretty and just right for holding the little bunny I crafted last week.
She seems pretty pleased with her cozy spot. The fabrics here are all thrifted. The buttons were an afterthought, but tighten up the opening a little so she won't slip out. The handles are twill tape - I made them long enough to go over the shoulder. I think the bag is just big enough for a few little things essential to six year old girls; maybe a nice thing to take along on car rides, to hold crayons or little books.
It all came together in about 45 minutes. I like how all the fabrics worked together, the colors are sweet and speak of spring. I think I'll make some more like this.

And then...I'll knit.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006


Sweetness is this little bunny I stitched from the Japanese felt craft book. She'll be tucked into a bag or quilt (depending on what I have time for) and sent off to a friend's daughter for her sixth birthday. I had to modify the dress a little since it was wayyy too short. I didn't think the vintage lace would work on the bottom but somehow it added to the behemian motif carried by the little embroidered mirror on the front. She seems happiest outside amongst the pots by my front door. Her eyes are the same beads I used for the dangly puppy and cat, and she has felt pen accents here and there.
Sweetness are our new baby chicks. Can't have to many things to nurture, isn't that right ladies. There are actually five all together, one seems to be camera shy here...six minutes after snapping this picture and sitting down to download it, there was a terrific CRASH from upstairs. Seems the Bad Cat knocked the whole cage upside down! Luckily noone was hurt (or crushed from the blow!) but it took some time to clean up the mess, and judging from the noise now they are still processing the ordeal.
Three of these babies are Americanas, one is a Golden Laced Wyndotte, and the black one we forgot to look up, but her name is Zoe.
Sweetness is finally toting a bulletin board home from school to start my inspiration collage. It's been years since I've done this; I used to have one four times this size that I let someone (ahem) talk me into discarding. Anyway, this one serves the purpose quite well and as you can see I had no problem getting started. I seem to have kind of taken over a section of the girls' room upstairs; what once was the homework center has now become my craft-and-contemplation corner, with all my supplies neatly labeled and in view (pictures another day....) They'd rather do their homework at the big table downstairs, bien sur. Here I have some clippings of projects I want to try, ways to organize beautifully, and a little eye candy thrown in for restful interludes. It's just nice to look at.
Sweetness is receiving a package...all the way from London! I "won" this little nest of mohair fiber from Jess awhile back when she was reducing her stash, and it just arrived. The colors are edible and have a silvery sheen. I love the postcard she included with a picture of the Tower of London and a sweet old carthorse in the street. I have a nice little collection of different fibers now, and must pull out my spindle and try my hand at making yarn again.
OK, I saved the best for last....sweetness is having the BEST SECRET PAL IN THE WHOLE WORLD!!! I got the most wonderful package from Arizona. Inside I found this yumminess: a vanilla candle, white tea and a sage green cup, a cute sparkly Princess picture frame wrapped in some really great heart fabric, a travelling dpn case with 4 metal dpn's inside (geez those look tiny!), a flowery photo album, a terrific sock pattern book with many fun patterns AND.......(drum roll) Elizabeth Zimmerman! I had put this book on my list with a secret hope to receive it. It's just as wonderful and funny and inspiring as I had heard it was. I'm halfway through already and have learned many many things about knitting. Being self taught, I find even the basics enlightening sometimes (insert sound of old timers politely stifling coughs)

Thank you doesn't even BEGIN to say it...I'm sending you a big warm cyber-hug, SP7! Wow!

Thursday, March 02, 2006


Finding a bag of buttons at the thrift store is as good as jewels. Can you spot the treasure here? I suppose everyone's idea will be different. I am looking for smallish black buttons for stuffy eyes at the moment, but I really like the interesting textures here. Now that I look closer, I think some of the smooth white ones would make good eyes on darker animals.
I found more fabric. My collection is starting to grow now. The next part is getting it all washed and ironed so it is usable. I am kicking myself for not snatching up a BOLT of stiff interfacing a few weeks ago...I so want to make bags!
I like the colors of the books with the fabrics...a little light reading, and some Little House books to complete our collection. Also a clutch of fabric roses and (not pictured), some embroidery floss, rick rack and 3 flower appliques, because you can never have too much!
I like this last pile the best. Who could resist that chicken potholder?! A little more fabric (the stuff on the far right is actually a little valance) and my new flip flops, the color was too wonderful to pass up.
Total for the lot: Just under $10.00

I got an email from Morgaine's assistant, who said she could help me fix the wheel with very little trouble. These wheels come ready to assemble, so the parts are easy to get, and it would only be a few days after ordering them to get it put together again. I am so excited! Just need to plan a getaway trip to San Francisco (did someone say adventure?)

We also heard from the fence guy, Harry. He will be starting our corral project as soon as the weather clears up! Hooray! Fannie is getting closer to coming home, and I am so glad. It's frustrating to have to board her in a place where there is nowhere to ride (unless you count going round and round the pen, ugh.) When we get her home, we'll have the whole forest to explore!

And in knitting news....well, the last I saw of the birthday socks, they were in my knitting bag hanging in my closet at school. Well, I got all the way home before I remembered I had forgotten them! Oops. So no progress to show.

But new projects have popped up: I have promised knitted gifts for two of my Team In Training honorees. Bridget, age 9, will get a knitted poncho like this. She is adorable and I think this pattern (in some pretty pink washable) will be perfect for her. Then there is my friend Greg. I emailed him some time ago with the idea of knitting him a hat. He has requested dark green and dark blue...I'm thinking very very soft and wonderful...does anyone have a terrific hat pattern for a 17 year old? And if you are touched by Greg's story, please click on the Team In Training button in the sidebar to find out how you can help! Go! Now!!!

I can't wait to get these projects started. So much to do! I'm glad it's still winter.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006


It all started when I had to take back my borrowed Ashford Traveller. I immediately had withdrawals, even though I knew it was not the wheel for me. I didn't even spin THAT much on it, I just missed seeing it in the corner. I really, really wanted a wheel for my own.
I perused Ebay, I looked at catalogues, and the truth sunk in...I just really couldn't afford one right now. You see, I'm only working half time, and I have bills, and I can't justify an expense like that, especially since after I got it I'd be spending so much time using it!

I cast about for ideas...being inherently frugal...and remembered a dear friend of mine who had mentioned she had a wheel I could use. I saw her at school and cornered her. "Hey! I want to borrow your wheel." "Sure," she replied. "When do you want to come over?" "How about Thursday?" I pressed (I don't think she knew how serious I was.) "Um...OK," she said. "I'll just have to get it out of the barn."

Clue #1.
At first glance, well....OK. A little dusty. But wait...there's something wrong with this picture!
"I think it might be missing a couple of parts," my friend says. Umm, a couple?
Well, at least one! That would be...the entire flywheel. And you can see one broken bracket where it should be sitting. "Hmmmm....maybe it's out in the barn still...what exactly does it look like?" she says. Crikey!

I ask (nicely, through clenched teeth) how long exactly it had been since she used it. "Oh, it was a seventies thing," she laughs. ??? "It sat in my living room for a long time...I just liked looking at it. And then the kids started playing with know, it's SO FUN to see how fast you can make it go, and stuff."

It's all fun, until someone gets hurt.
Here's a close up of the broken treadle. I've given up trying to download the last picture (just as depressing) that shows the bracket that holds the moa - cracked. I'll try to get that in another post after I've wiped my tears.

I had asked my friend if she wanted to sell this thing (BEFORE I had actually seen it!) and she said "Oh no, no, but you can borrow it indefinitely." Hmm, interesting. As I loaded it up in the car she asked me, "Do you really want to take it? I know it's in pretty bad shape," and with a tremor in my voice I responded, "Well, we'll give it a go. Maybe one of my guild ladies can help." At which point she offered to help pay for repairs. : )

Enter Stitches West. At the vendor hall I found the venerable Morgaine of Carolina Homespun. I told her of my plight, and she encouraged me to bring it to her shop and she would check it out. Hope springs eternal! Morgaine, if you're reading there any chance we can fix it?!

Stay tuned for more of As The Wheel (can't) Turn...
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