Friday, July 28, 2006

princess world

I promised a pic of my first sweater. What I didn't admit is that it's my first of... two. I made this sweater two years ago for P. #2, and here it is hanging in her room. She did wear it a couple of times, once when we went to the snow. You can see this pic on my Flickr page too (thanks, Sylvie!) I even put one of those cool flashin Flickr thingies in the sidebar, see?!
A closer shot reveals the terrible job I did on this. The yarn here is cotton, something thick and kind of wiggly. After I washed it I noticed it kind of felted itself, becoming heavy and unyielding. Complicating matters was the fact that in my beginner's enthusiasm I somehow managed to twist every stitch.

It was probably a mistake to attempt intarsia so early in my career. I didn't really get the concept of joining the yarns, and you can see the gaping holes that left. I distinctly remember going back over with my darning needle and trying to close each one from the back. Can you say lumpy?

Oh, but I was proud.... so proud. And I don't think it looks too bad as an objet here in the room I call Princess World.
I sewed this sweet little dress yesterday in about three hours. Thrifted fabric and vintage ric rac (I really should take a closer picture - the match is incredible) Total cost: $2.25. Now I feel better about all that fabric piling up; since it's cooler, I may attempt a dress a day (or two).
My magazine swap partner from New Zealand, Sarah, sent me these great pool reads. Get Creative covers just about any craft you'd want to try - from beading to beyond, with great articles about projects to do with kids. And Healthy Food is packed with interesting stuff, along with some recipes I've clipped and pasted into my "to try" notebook. Thanks so much Sarah!

It's fun to read her blog, since it's winter there, and she writes about how coooold it's been, and she's there knitting warm woolies while we all sweat. I'm glad things are finally cooling off...but I'm sure not ready for winter yet!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

jumping to conclusions

After lengthy observation and careful thought, the following conclusions have been made:

**I am pretty useless during the heat. Recent temps in the 100's has made for several completely unproductive days.

**I finally have enough fabric to make me feel guilty for buying more fabric. In fact, since today is cooler and I have no excuse, I will be examining said fabric and deciding on my next move.

**I am procrastinating on the quilt. It is SO unlike me. Leo being a fixed sign, I rarely start stuff before finishing (most) WIP's. I know, I know... call me crazy. So will the world end if I don't finish the quilt?

Or should I enter it in the Fair and MAKE myself finish it? Hmmmm....tempting.

**I am going to get my Master's Degree. I shall be applying to San Jose State this fall to start at Spring Semester. (There, I've said it.)

**If you don't believe that life is long and you will enjoy them later, you will feel guilty about the times when you want your children to go away.

**When things change constantly, it's a sign that they are alive.
A mama deer and her babies in a nearby apple orchard. Do you think the farmer constructed the "skeleton deer" to scare them away? They don't look very scared. It's fun to see them stand on their hind legs to reach the tender leaves.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006


I have been trying for THREE DAYS NOW to post here. I have never posted without pictures. It just seems so....unfinished, somehow. But, damn it, I cannot get anything to fly. Is it the heat? Mental blocks? Blogger sent me their form email back with 50 or so links to why this might be happening......*yawn* I'm getting a Bad Response From The Server. Or else the upload is "done" (according to the bottom bar) and yet, no image.

So I just needed to let you all know....I'm here. I'm trying. And I won't give up!

I have so much to show the magazines I got from this gal. The first sweater I ever knit, unearthed in a recent cleaning frenzy. More sushi. Shots of the goats being adorable.

I'm gathering goodies for the Birthday Swap too. It's cooler today, and we have Big Plans: downtown Santa Cruz, the library, and the Farmer's Market. I'll take pictures, and I'll try back again later.


PS I did have time, in the midst of the endless waiting for imageless downloads, to tweak the sidebar a little; I retrieved the buttons I had recently lost and adjusted my blog list. I also updated my profile and for now it feels right.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

sushi dreams

Horsey Girl is branching out. Normally my resident baker, she has caught the bento obsession. Here we have the results of her latest venture - sushi, and it is wonderful. We made a plate as a special thank you to the Buddha of Wealth and Happiness.
Wash the rice carefully, swirling it around in a mesh strainer for five to ten minutes. Put equal parts rice and water in the pot and soak for another twenty minutes to half an hour. Bring water to a boil and cook 2 - 3 minutes over high heat. Reduce heat to low, cook 15 minutes, then turn off heat and let it steam for 20.

For 1 1/2 cups rice, pour 1/4 cup rice vinegar and 1 tablespoon sugar over the rice as you spread it into a big, wide wooden bowl. While this is happening, have your mother fan the rice wildly with a Japanese magazine to cool it. Keep a damp cloth over the top as you work.

Make sure your fingers are wet as you spread the rice over the nori. Use whatever fillings you like - here we have cucumber, carrot and red pepper - then start rolling, using the bamboo mat to keep things contained.
Eat with wasabi, soy sauce, and/or pickled vegetables. Save some for later if you can...

Good luck.

Friday, July 21, 2006

the best night ever

Last night, a wonderful thing happened. My two greatest loves came together - knitting and baseball, specifically, THE GIANTS. Yes folks, it was Stitch and Pitch night at the baseball game, and we were there, right on the third base line (an excellent advantage to watching Barry Bonds crouching, I might add.)

There was knitting, and there was incredible baseball. First the knitting: They had a contest of Master Knitters and their amazing feats. The winner actually knitted with baseball bats, something you really have to see to believe. Horsey Girl and I took a little milder approach with small projects using the team colors.

Then, there was the game.
Go ahead, say it. He's incredible. And then....Ray Durham hits another one! We are wild. We are going NUTS. Then Pedro Feliz is up. Noone can sit. All knitting is forgotten. And then, the impossible happens.... THREE HOME RUNS IN A ROW. Dh says this happens, um, never. But on this night, this magical must have been the knitting. Strangers embraced. Beers flew. The noise was deafening. Another timeless moment...

Incredible as it may seem, the miracles just kept coming. It was time for Flash Your Visa. Much to P. #1's chagrine I whipped mine out and started dancing. Funky town! Suddenly, the people behind us started to scream. "There we are! There we are!" The camera was on ME. I was up on the big screen, waving my Visa card like an idiot. The camera lingered....

It would have been enough, really. It was fun like BIG FUN to see us up there. But a few minutes later, a quiet Japanese man appeared before my eyes. He handed me a white envelope. I was....the winner?! Why yes, yes I was. I had won a $100 Visa gift card.

I credit the Buddha, I really do.
And let's not forget the goods. The knitting bag of my dreams, and inside, several skeins of yarn in the team colors (I gave the "fun" one to H.G., but it's wonderful), a set of bamboo needles, endless coupons for LYS's, and a pattern for a team hat.

It was like Christmas, my birthday and winning the lottery all in one. It was, in short, the best night ever.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

what is this?

Yes, you guessed it. The Box of Crayons quilt in its embryonic stage. See how the colors in the middle kind of moosh together? And the red part isn't really happening. I mean, it's happening, but not happening. So it's been sitting in a pile under the ironing board for awhile while I make stuff like this:
I whipped this up for my Refashionista group. We were challenged to make a bag with unusual materials. I used my old shower curtain, and it's just the ticket for beach and pool. An exciting benefit was how the soap scum lubricated my needle as I sewed. But I digress.
A shot of the inside revealing more of that Hawaiin fabric I've got laying around. I must say I've made quite a dent in that stash. I like the fishy pocket too - a must have for the cell phone and camera. The straps are made from braided strips that I unravelled from a place mat (don't worry Sylvie, I didn't cut them all...)

Are you detecting a theme here?
Stay cool everyone.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


Horsey Girl and I had so much fun shopping yesterday. First we went thrifting. We found this wonderful Buddha. I think he's God of wealth - or maybe shopping! He's carrying his loot and standing on a big bag of money. A tiny Japanese tea set for Princess #2. And the felt carp is a tape measure! Too great.
This wonderful fabric, future dresses for my cutie girl. She may be going to preschool soon and will need a new wardrobe. Each of these was $2 and there's over two yards of fabric. I just love the colors and prints!
Here we have a little obsession indulgence. For a couple of weeks now I've been checking out sites like this and this and ooooooh! This one. I drool, exclaim, and fantasize about the lunches I will be creating for school next year. So I had to get the stuff, right? Now don't get excited. We found a Japanese Dollar Store on our travels, called the Lychee House. None of these beautiful bento boxes were more than $2.50 - even the lacquer ones! I tell you, I have seen these online for upwards of $15! So we were pretty stoked to get such a wonderful variety. In the basket: tiny condiment bottles, cutters for veggies in the shape of flowers, two different sushi molds, a bamboo rolling mat and, of course, chopsticks.
After hitting Kinokuniya for cute erasers and some Japanese craft magazines (no, you'll just have to wait for another post!), we ventured into Mitsuwa Marketplace for some goodies to pack into our new bento boxes. Things you just can't get at Safeway... mochi buns, rice crackers, petit puddings, and some beautiful candies in gorgeous colors to round out the rainbow. Also a nice big fine strainer for washing rice. I'm going to attempt to make sushi...

And later, how this all ties into knitting and finishing the darn quilt. he he just kidding

Thursday, July 13, 2006

orange you glad

Some random things to be GLAD about today:

** We are going to the movies to see Pirates and that delicious Johnny Depp dude. I know the reviews are mixed - but we hardly ever see movies, and a matinee with my sweetie seems so sweet.
** Dh has had a nice looong vacation, and has completed many unfinished house projects - including this wall, which had long been requiring wallboard, texturing, and paint. Here he gets a little help with the latter (it's still in her hair.)
** I have learned to slow down more lately. I was feeling overwhelmed when school ended... I realized how much stress I've been holding onto, and finally, finally I've been managing to let it go. Walk mindfully, stay present, breathe... P. #2 helps me with this. Seeing the world through her eyes, down on her level, seems to keep things real and in proper perspective. The perfect place to be is right here, right now.
** I am glad to embrace my lifestyle, living without neighbors and the crush of the city. When I drive in town, I feel smothered sometimes, like the cars and the houses and the people are all kind of piled up on top of each other, impeding progress. Living in the forest, I can stretch out, walk (or ride) for miles without seeing a soul. If a car drives by, we notice. Our dogs can bark, the kids can squeal, we can all be free... and noone is there to complain. Yes, it takes sacrifice, and can be inconvenient. I wish for more company sometimes. But at night, when I can hear the stars and smell the moon, all is right in our personal world.

Of course, this translates a different way too: Camping is NOT vacation. Vacation means a hotel room, cable and pool.
** Simple pleasures are the best. Hence after our Aquarium visit we hit the candy store for bags the size of our heads, filled with our favorites. Sweet treats and sugary dreams - there's nothing a little candy can't cure.
** Five more weeks of this glorious summer.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

pool knitting

Just a glimpse of the aforementioned dishcloth addiction. It takes about two days to make one - maybe less, if I let myself land long enough. You can find the pattern here, but must put your feet into the nearest pool to make them truly authentic. I must say it does help the process, and there's no harm done by errant splashing.

Saturday, July 08, 2006


I ask you now to bear witness to the mess that is my "studio". Actually it is just a section of our upstairs room where the big girls sleep when they are here. Slowly but surely I have encroached upon their space until what remains can only be entitled "chaos".

Sewing machine and supplies, piles of fabric, boxes of fiber and yarn. Tubs of P. #2's art supplies, lacking a better place to put them. A tower of office supplies, beads, stickers, stationary and glue. Oh, and a stash of empty containers - I've been collecting them so I can (ahem) organize.

Unfortunately it's hotter than blazes upstairs right now. Organizing will have to wait. And the girls don't come home until next week. (Swinging the camera in either direction would reveal dirty clothes mountains, unmade beds, stacks of books and entire generations of dust bunnies.)

Instead, I've been hitting the thrift stores (I know, big surprise.)
The surprise is, I actually dragged dh along with me this time. I found these awesome books, $1 each. The Indian Vegetarian book is incredible authentic and weighs a ton. The other three are from the sixties, fluffy and colorful. Can't wait to peruse them with Horsey Girl (she loves to bake.)
Why do I buy old knitting patterns? I keep hoping someone will want to do a trade! Meanwhile, they pile up. The cutie pie in the hat is modeling some really interesting crochet hat and bag ensembles. And Knitting is Fun and Easy Too when you've got a cute co-ed boyfriend to hang out with.

Of course I can justify purchasing the Recipes for Arts and Crafts materials because I'm a teacher. There's great ideas in there for homemade playdoughs, paints, glues, inks and other projects. And the paper angels are just ADORABLE. Some scrapbook junkie really really wants these.


Friday, July 07, 2006


I know I promised crafting. But Christine wanted to see the finished sand candles. I think they make a nice display down the center of my farm table, mixed in with my old shell collection and some potted herbs. Martha has nothing on me, baby.

To tell the truth, I haven't been crafting much. I need to find the filling and back for the Box of Crayons quilt; I also will probably need to do some ripping out on it. I stitched it together hastily and, in retrospect, I think it could use some tweaking to get the effect I'm after. The cross stitch project is lanquishing in its bag while I knit....dishcloths. I like to do this in the summer because they are small, light and cool. In addition I was ridiculed by co - workers when I knitted them in the staff room last winter. ("You're making what?!") But you can't buy these things at Kmart, let me tell you.

I leave you now with a pic of a little altar / niche I have outside.
The Tree of Life is from Ireland, a gift from dh back in our courting days. On top sits a tiny Mary in a plastic vial of holy water - the sticker says it's from Lourdes.

Today is the best day of your beautiful life.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006


Today's question: How is family court like a banana slug?

A. They are both incredibly slow. Today's court session has been continued, over and over, for the past eleven months, and lasted a total of seven hours. It takes a banana slug an entire afternoon to move from the dog's dish to the porch steps.

B. They both feed upon the unfortunate circumstances of others. Banana slugs eat dead things. Family court eats time, money, and makes you wish your ex-husband was dead.

C. Neither one is condusive to knitting. Slugs will slime your stitches and make goo on your yarn. Burly court appointed sheriffs will confiscate your knitting bag and tell you your needles are too easily used as weapons. (I should be so lucky.)

D. Both are fascinating to watch...for a little while. Banana slugs don't do much though, and even court TV shows get a little stale.

E. All of the above.

PS Crafting tomorrow, I promise.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

birthday swap

Isn't this a gorgeous button? I've joined the August Birthday Swap, hostessed by my sweet Secret Pal 7. All the participants have birthdays in August (SP7 and I share the same one! What are the odds?!)

OK, Birthday Pal, if you're reading this, here's my Official Questionnaire:

What day is your birthday?
August 17. The year shall remain nameless.

Are you crafty?
To a fault.

Would you enjoy things like: Buttons, ribbons and embellishments?
Bring 'em on! All of the above.

Do you dye your own wool?
I've had some adventures with Koolaid. Chemicals scare me, but natural dyes intrigue.

Do you like to scrapbook or make homemade cards?
I haven't really tried, but I'd probably enjoy it.

What small project would you be interested in making? Socks, mittens, scarf, hat, baby items, wash cloths, doilies, shrugs etc
Yes, yes, yes and yes! I *heart* socks especially.

What are your favorite scents?
Lemon, almond, rose, coconut.

Do you like stationary and cards?
I have enough, thank you.

Do you like hand lotions or soaps?
I would love some nice soap.

Do you like to sew or embroider items?
Yes on both! Currently obessed with cross stitch and quilting.

Do you like beads?
They're OK. More my kids' domain.

What kind of mail-able snacks do you like to eat?
Oooooooh! Crunchy - salty - sweet. Not a chocoholic, but I love nuts.

Do you like to wear costume jewelry? Necklace, earrings, bracelets etc.
No, unless it could be de-constructed for embellishments.

Do you like to play cards or board games?
More of a wintertime activity.

What are your favorite colors of yarn?
I like clear, bright colors. White is not practical for my lifestyle. Purple and green are my current favorites.

Do you like solid, variegated, heathers, or self stripping yarns?
I love yarns that create patterns, especially for socks.

Do you like kitchen magnets or key rings?
Sure....western themes are fun.

Do you like picture frames?
Um, they're OK, but I'm not big on clutter or things that need dusting.

Do you like to make/or use stitch markers?
Dd makes them, and I have a large stash.

Do you collect anything?
Besides yarn, fiber and fabric? Virgin Mary statues.

Do you have any allergies? Smoke, food, fiber, pets, etc..

Do you have any hobbies?
Knitting, spinning, gardening, cross stitch, quilting, sewing, horses dogs and goats.

Do you like scented or unscented candles?

Are you a fiber snob?
Why yes, yes I am. I prefer natural fibers and please, no "fun" stuff.

Off to email my Birthday Pal!

it's a jungle

As the summer days stretch on, there is the question of how to fill them. That is, without watching TV, the bane of my existence!

P. #2's favorite toys are her plastic animals. She has about 300 of them...I find them posed all over the house in different ways, and it always gives me a smile. Jungle and farm friends are all jumbled up, and usually there's a dinosaur or two in the mix as well. Here's a little vignette from the dining table.

Earlier last month, I purchased this dollhouse from Ebay. It was my first time buying on the site, and I think I got a pretty good deal - the house was $3, plus $15 for shipping. It came with a little bit of furniture, and it is all wood. I'm giving a conscious effort to eliminate plastic stuff from my kid's world, but it's pretty tough! Other than the animals, of course. I recently spent several hours going through all her toys and getting rid of "brand name" merchandise. I guess I'm gearing up for Waldorf school! Or something like it. It sure feels better, and her room looks more organic now.

Queen Licorice approves.
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