Monday, October 30, 2006

samhain altars

Samhain (pronounced sow-en) is also known as the witches' New Year. We pagans get the best of everything - celebrating the seasons, the Old Ways, and of course doing the mainstream bits as well. Here's my altar for Samhain. It's really more like a Day of the Dead slant - it's a time to honor our beloved ancestors, those who paved the way for us, those who made us who we are. We cherish their memory through pictures, stories, and gifts. I've assembled some treasured items to help my remember those dear to my heart who have gone ahead.
First and foremost is my father, Roaul. He died of leukemia three years ago. They gave him three months to live...he only lasted six weeks. I like that I have pictures of him as a boy, a high school senior, and also as a handsome grown man. My dad was an elementary school principal for over thirty years. He was very well liked, firm but fair. Our family dinners were made special by his entertaining stories of teachers and students. He had a great laugh.

The little picture in front is me with my maternal great grandparents. I'm holding out my hand in a kind of sweet gesture...perhaps someone has asked me to show them something. This picture is on top of a card from my grandmother...."to my sweet, sweet granddaughter. I love you so much." I loved her too.

The little angel box holds Angel Cards and was shellacked long ago by my sister.

Also on the altar are pictures painted by my birth dad, who died when he was very young. Images of my guru, Paramahansa Yogananda, who was instrumental in bringing yoga to America. Rudraksha beads, a skull rattle, and my Tarot cards. Samhain is a great time to do divination.

And on a lighter note, the kitchen altar. Most of these little trinkets were gifts from students or from my mom, who used to work in a cute little boutique in Pacific Grove. At night we light all the candles....
Have a safe Halloween and a spooky New Year!

Friday, October 27, 2006


Here we have the Circus Socker Soccs in their finished glory, as modeled by Horsey Girl (complaining all the way - like I ask her for so many favors, I'm sure!) The pooling here is over the top, n'est-ce pas? I'm not really really in love with these socks, but they will be fun to wear when I head back to teach Kindergarten in the dreary dregs of January...remind me to practice my kitchening skills, will ya? The toes on these look pretty drastic.

Yesterday brought some exciting mail to the ol' box!
Ms. La Belle was cleaning house recently, and I won a little drawing she had while reducing her stash. Wasn't I the lucky duck!? Just look at that adorable circus fabric. ( it a recurring theme?) The sweet yellow prints would really brighten up any quilts I might (ahem) be working on. The green is a linen-y type fabric positively crawling with adorable bugs. Mostly out of sight but still wonderful is a brown flowery piece I have my eye on for a skirt. But wait! There's more...
P. #2 is enomored by this sweet old apron, a cute gingham cross stitched by someone long ago...she will wear it soon when we bake pumpkin muffins together next week. And not to be outdone, Horsey Girl had to give it a whirl too...
It looks positively witchy with her costume. Always the deconstruction queen, she's been hard at work slashing away at a flea market dress to create the quintessential Dark Angel/Bad Fairy outfit. Wait 'till you see it!

Thank you so much Gina! I am the luckiest witch in the cave!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

fun with pumpkins

Last Friday, we headed out to the ol' pumpkin patch. Luckily here in Santa Cruz there are many organic options. I love the color of these...
...and the shapes and textures here. We had a terrific time browsing around. This particular patch had some resident clowns that told stories, stuffed chickens perched on hay bales, even and old tractor to climb on.
P. #2 found so many that she "wanted", we started to get a little worried. Could we pay for them all? Could we carry them to the car?!

Luckily the management had thought of everything. Here's a pic of our haul. The bigger ones were marked down considerably since their stems had snapped off. What a deal! One for dad, one for mom, three for the sissies and of course a few extras for the dogs.

Ever eager, we slashed right in. It's been wonderful dining by pumpkin light. I hope you all are having your own important October rituals!

p.s. The Socker Soccs are complete, kitchener'd to the glare of the TV late Monday night...I've started another lace project, I think you will be so proud! Keep coming back!

Monday, October 23, 2006

best friend

Last week we hit the beach with my best friend. The weather here in Santa Cruz has been gorgeous, in the 70's at the water...just right for a little dip (toes only! The water is still chilly) I feel a little guilty getting an email from my mil telling of snow in Colorado! I just had to give my best friend a call and she dashed right down.
I met my best friend about 12 years ago. We met at a retreat up in the mountains, complete with sweat lodge. I knew as soon as I saw her I wanted to be her friend. She has the most amazing blue eyes. I felt a real heart connection with her, so I told her, "I want to be your friend." She laughed. I had never met anyone like her - spiritual, spontaneous, magical, motherly, creative, smart, and super fun to be with. We started hanging out every week after that.
We had daughters around the same age, along with a younger sibling each, hers a boy. Our kids spent many happy ours running amuck while we talked, and played, and indulged ourselves. We had field trips and rituals and parties. Lunchtime ran into dinner time, full and round, through every season. Those were such happy days and I remember them fondly.

Now the daughters have grown up and are leading different lives, but we know that they will be back, and that the legacy we gave them will make them strong in the long run. My best friend and I still love to hang out; there is less indulging now, but I still feel that heart connection when I am with her. She always knows the right thing to say, and I value her insight, as well as her connection to spirit, and her deep sense of play (she helped create the sandcastle above, and adores Little Princess too)

The best kind of friends give moms a break - to knit (marching down the instep now on Socker Socc #2), to relax, to be themselves. The best kind of friends are forever. We've been through good times and hard times and just "times"..... I am so glad to know you - and I love you, sister!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


Recently I posted about living without TV. Now it's a great idea, emotionally and spiritually, to do without TV. It's better for a child's development, etc. etc. And it's easier said than done, I'll admit. But what do you do when you really CAN'T resort to the electronic babysitter?

You see, we live "off the grid." No, we don't use solar power so we can get a rebate from the electric company. We use solar power because that's the only power we have. And we love it.

We have a gas water heater, gas refrigerator, and a gas stove. Today when we got home and it had been foggy all day AGAIN (three days running), instinct and experience told me it was time to employ an alternative method of amusement. First choice: homemade playdough.
Princess #2 started Big Girl School about two months ago, and this transition has given birth to many new responsibilities and an overall sense of purpose. SHE would be the one making the playdough. And luckily it was easy as pie.

Homemade playdough:

*One cup flour
*One half cup salt
*One cup water
*Two tablespoons cream of tartar
*One tablespoon oil
*A few drops of food coloring

Mix over medium heat until thick like mashed potatoes. Spread on the counter to cool. Store in an airtight container.
Now you see my red kitchen. I painted it this way about five years ago, and it's badly in need of a re-paint. But I can't bear to do it! Every time I think I have the perfect color picked, I chicken out. The red is just so, well, perfect.

A simple as pie project that took minimum effort for maximum joy. She continued on into the afternoon, squeezing and sculpting and making dozens of pies and cookies and help from Dora.

Last of all, a quick pic of my Secret Tea Pal Swap package. Lavendar tea, lavendar chocolate...good strong breakfast tea, beautiful tea blossoms, a wonderful glass mug, and some silk noir from Sedona in gorgeous desert colors. Thank you so much Annise!

Monday, October 16, 2006

dear secret pal

A few things you might like to know about me.

1. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with? What fibers do you absolutely *not* like?

I like soft yarns, nothing to thick or bulky. I do *not* like fun fur, sparkly yarn or anything too novelty....currently I'm obsessed with socks and lace scarves, so lightweight is the name of the game here.

2. What do you use to store your needles/hooks in?

I have a homemade needle case for straights, and I'm planning on making one for my dpn's too. I keep circulars in a round basket (though I don't really use them)

3. How long have you been knitting & how did you learn? Would you consider your skill level to be beginner, intermediate or advanced?

I taught myself to knit during my last pregancy (about four years ago.) I would consider my skill level to be low intermediate, but I'm never afraid to try new stuff.

4. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list? No.

5. What's your favorite scent? (for candles, bath products, etc.)

Lemon, coconut, almond, sandalwood. I also love incense.

6. Do you have a sweet tooth? Favorite candy?

I am currently on a strict diet so I am avoiding sugar and high calorie goodies....I do enjoy tea, soap, candles and cosmetics as alternate treats.

7. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do? Do you spin?

I do spin, and I love it. I also cross stitch, sew, quilt, and I love drawing and painting with my three year old.

8. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s? (if your buddy wants to make you a CD)

I like mellow, new agey music; also world beat, reggae, Hawaiin, and anything un-American.

9. What's your favorite color(s)? Any colors you just can't stand?

I am burnt out on brights right now, and yearn for soothing earth tones: caramel, sand, camel, chocolate, dove grey. Also purple and green (but not too dark.)

10. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets?

I am married and have three daughters, 16,12 and 3 (the first two from a prior marriage). We live on a farm of sorts: 1 horse, 2 goats, 6 chickens, 3 dogs, 6 cats. I love sheep and llamas too.

11. Do you wear scarves, hats, mittens or ponchos?

All but ponchos. Love fingerless gloves and lacey scarves.

12. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit?

Socks, socks, socks! Also see above
13. What are you knitting right now?

Finishing up a pair of bright socks, and getting ready to start a simple lace scarf.

14. Do you like to receive handmade gifts?

Of course!

15. Do you prefer straight or circular needles? Bamboo, aluminum, plastic?

I really like straights best. Bamboo or any wood is great. Could use #4 dpn's as our darling puppy chewed up mine.

16. Do you own a yarn winder and/or swift?

I have a center pull ball winder, and I'd love a niddy noddy.

17. How old is your oldest UFO?

Um, can you believe, I don't really have any?! I'm kind of anal about finishing stuff before I start anything else. My recent socks were started about three weeks ago. I am a sloooow knitter for sure.

18. What is your favorite holiday?

I celebrate Pagan holidays (sabbats) and I love them all! Summer and Winter Solstice are great.

19. Is there anything that you collect?

Bento boxes and accessories; images of Quan Yin; and sock yarn! I also like beads, stickers, fabric and trims.

20. Any books, yarns, needles or patterns out there you are dying to get your hands on? What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have?

I adore all Japanese craft magazines and would REALLY like any issues of Cotton and Paint! Also Knitting Vintage Socks, Color in Spinning, and the Twisted Sisters Sock Book. I enjoy knitting dishcloths and would love cotton and/or hemp yarn for that. Especially hemp!

21. Are there any new techniques you'd like to learn?

Some day I will try cables. I love to try new things.

22. Are you a sock knitter? What are your foot measurements?

Yes, I wear a women's size 10 shoe (about 9" long)

23. When is your birthday? (mm/dd)

August 17, 1964.
Images brought to you by Fall Creek in Felton, where I hike three times a week. It's so beautiful and serene...truly a spiritual place and a great retreat for meditating on my next project!

Friday, October 13, 2006

13.1 just for fun

The lure of endurance events is strong. Once you've done a couple, you're hooked. This time, I decided to walk. Actually, I signed up for the San Jose Rock and Roll Half Marathon by accident. They claimed not to have received my entry...and yet, here came the envelope containing my number. There was nothing left to do but take it on.
Here we are at the start. I am in corral #13 as you can see. Nothing but nervous energy to be had here, but I remained calm....due not in small part to the terrible headache I had at the time after drinking too much wine at a school fundraiser the night before. Do not attempt this at home.
The best part of Rock and Roll events (this was my second) is that they are exactly that - rock and roll baby! Every two miles or so, another band is blasting tunes to keep you upbeat and moving. Here's a pic of my personal favorite - incredibly talented Asian youth banging out a beat both strong and crisp...tight with the beat, but full of creative energy. What else to call it? Bento, of course.
I walked, and walked, and walked some more. We winded through my old neighborhoods in downtown San Jose (SJSU graduate, 1987), backstreets filled with superior taquerias, Japantown, rows of Victorians full of students and inquisitive families pulling lawn chairs up to watch. I walked until I could walk no more, and for what? You ask. Well, just look at those amazing sandals! Nothing felt so good I tell you. I know what you're thinking: the socks ARE incredible as well. Dh and I were the self proclaimed "team pirate" this year. Stunning, no?
It was a long walk, but a good walk. A bonding moment at the end...notice the glow here folks. We had such a great time with our friend and mentor Christina, too (she took that first pic) Truly memories to last a lifetime. Let's do it again soon!

P.S. I am very behind in my Swap duties. Secret Pal, I will post the questionnaire soon, I promise. And Laura, I'm so glad you liked your goodies. As for my other blogs, well, I'll be with you in a moment. I still need to replace my links. Thank you for your patience.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

circus knitting

A long time ago, I used to be resentful of my daughters' involvement in soccer: my every weekend taken, practice meaning two trips up and down the hill, endless hours just waiting around. Now I see it as the true blessing it is: knitting time. Amidst the shouting parents, frantic players and plaintive whistles I sit, ever serene. I have even gone so far as to call them (in my head) "sock-er" games (he he)

One can get a lot done at those games, particularly the tournaments, which may (and usually do) involve freezing cold wind, remote locations and several games tied, 0 - 0.

These socks turned out a tiny bit more psychodelic than I anticipated. Hippie wear for sure (no, I don't own any Birkenstocks!) though they've gotten quite a few compliments as they unfold. This is the 2005 365 Days of Knitting pattern for May 13, "Leslie's Double Eyelet Socks." I reckon they are pretty close, if not the same, as the ones knit for me by my lovely Secret Pal last fall (or hopefully they will look it after a little blocking, n'est-ce pas?!)

The yarn is from Lisa Souza Knitwear and Dyeworks in the Big Top colorway, hence the nickname. Though in my heart they are sock-er soccs.

And now, for a much anticipated swap photo!
A long time ago (sorry Laura!) I was invited to do a color swap. She chose pink, and I chose green. This lady really outdid herself. I have not even pictured half the lovely items she enclosed, mostly because the children have been enjoying them....suffice to say, Laura is an amazing seamstress. See that bag? And the sweet little pocket purse to match? She made those with no pattern. Isn't that incredible? She included so many cute, fun green goodies...gum, a pen, post it notes, some vintage trim, and a card of buttons from her grandmother. On top of that, she crafted the most wonder ATC, and I am ashamed to say I still owe her pink.

It's coming Laura, I promise. Thank you, thank you sweet sister! And if you've never checked out her blog, go there now. This woman is amazing...creative, inspiring, a single mom to a special needs child and yet upbeat, energetic and oh, did I mention inspiring?

Friday, October 06, 2006

the artistic house

I am forever preaching the evils of television to the parents of my Kindergarten classes. During conferences, anxious moms and dads implore, "What can we do?!" My immediate response: Limit screen time! But what is a busy parent to do? Don't we sometimes need just a moment's peace?!

At our house, we like to do art...lots and lots and LOTS of art.

Buy paper where you can find it....99 cents stores are great, or dumpster diving at the local recycle center can turn up gold. Try all sizes and colors of paper, lined or not. Most kids don't care.

We like Stockmeyer crayons. They are made of beeswax (sustainable and organic) so they smell wonderful. They come in rectagular blocks so one can execute thick and thin lines depending on the angle held. And the colors are spectacular, even on dark paper.

But don't eschew the odd bucket of art supplies picked up at the thrift store or a garage man's trash, and all that. We have a penchiant for tubs of old crayons, markers and pencils, and very often uncover treasure that later becomes a work of art. Watercolors, poster paints, glitter, stickers....the options are endless. I liked the article in this magazine about keeping boxes of art supplies available, ready to tote to whatever room appeals on a whim.
Here you can witness Princess #2's recent gallery of favorites. These are mostly portraits of family: "This is mommy, this is daddy, this is Sissy...." You get the picture. And then, best of all, she arranged the installation, aided by wads of poster gum that won't harm the walls but insures many happy viewings to come as the creativity keeps rotating, never limited.

And we get a moment's peace.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

she's baaaaaack

I'm back, the camera's back, all is right with the world!

I have so much to show you, so much to tell...and five minutes until I have to leave for Horsey Girl's soccer game.

Please don't ask why this is all underlined...I have no idea. I'm just so happy to be here, posting my lovely home grown tomatoes.

That's Green Zebra, Italian Paste, and Cherokee Purple, all organic and heirloom, all tasty and lovely, awaiting my every sauce.

I picked up the camera yesterday, so happy I was practically squealing. The man behind the camera sighed as he handed it over. "It couldn't be fixed, you got a whole new one." Imagine my desbelief. And it only took you six weeks to figure that out!.....of course, I know enough about gift horses. No biggie! I'll take it!!!!

Seems to work even better! Here's gorgeous pears from the Farmer's Market:

And so, much more to come my friends! Swaps, knitting, and (hold your breath) spinning is wonderful, and so are all of you.

Off to soccer now.

Bye for now.

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