Wednesday, November 29, 2006

into the garden

The weather is getting chillier, and since last night we had frost, I decided it was time to take inventory in the garden. This old bed frame hold up beans in the peak of summer....just a memory now, it's leaning against the nectarine tree at the entrance. P. #2 pleads with me: "Let's go pick something mommy!"

We had rain earlier this week, so everything is lush and green. This is a favorite spot for the hens to hang out, full of sweet grass and luscious slugs. P. #2 has the eagle eye for pickables.

The harvest: peppers, tomatoes, and a couple of very sweet little zucchini. This very well may be our last "picking" of the year. Now in we go to make a little fresh pasta sauce. Thanks for coming!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

sleeping beauty

Sunday afternoon we took in Shakespeare Santa Cruz's production of Sleeping Beauty. Much to dh's chagrin I snapped this pic right at the most exciting moment...the princess is just about to, well, you know.

Touch the spindle!

The spindle that Belladonna used was a large, top whorl model, much like mine. But it looked like it had been made from very shiny bicycle parts, and the shaft was fatally sharp at the tip.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

found it

I guess I really needed to look at this picture again, to get the full effect. This is P. #1, she is a good hip slinger as you can see. We used a piece of this skirt for a skirt for the second P., and the rest for the bag. Pretty good refashioning, considering she really did use that cute bag.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

resting up

On Monday, Princess #2 turns four. Things have been slowly speeding up, and I can sense the excitement building as we prepare for the big trip to Walnut Creek on Thursday. We shopped today, in preparation towards being my "cooker helper girl". Alas, a very exciting day in Montessori preschool has taken its tole.

Yesterday, she brought me this:

I love this cute turkey, with hands for feathers and feet for the body. They painted the paper first too, makes such a nice decoration! This sits in our windowsill.

When Princess #1 left last Sunday, she left this slung on the bed:

We made this from an altered skirt of hers. (Wouldn't you love to see the before shot? Well, it's here somewhere...) She has used it at school the entire first quarter. Attached is her old Kindergarten name tag I came across whilst cleaning.

Since the bag has obviously been abandoned, could it be a great option for Hawaii? Ah, yes, the turkey is not eaten, but in my mind...I'm already packing, baby.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

what i'm really knitting

I am becoming a new kind of knitter. Some of you may know that I don't generally have more than one project going at a time. But I suppose, at the holidays, it's understandable to start a couple of quick gift projects. And it's nice to get a little break from the feels nice to knit with a quiet color a little bit too!

I'm making hemp facecloths (my good old dishcloth pattern) and tying them up with a bar of soap with raffia, lavender, and a nice tag. It seems like a nice gift, don't you think?

Speaking of lavender, I made these little bags with some Princess #2 and I harvested together. Some of these fabrics came from swaps and such. (Blogger is making links difficult for me STILL, please forgive me not crediting all of you special pals and such!) This is a quick and easy project. You can use herbs from the store. I want to find some cat mint to make kitty toys in shapes.

If you are a relative, avert your eyes! You could be witnessing your own presents. But I warned you. This shirt was pretty quick to do. I came across the bag of t shirts I had purchased for this idea last week...I was glad I did! I have a few more like this to make.

Midget has become my new model. This pillow is from thrifted calico, vintage rick rac and an old stitchery's the three little kittens, and they're playing with their mittens. It's soft and kind of worn in feeling...("hmmm, maybe a good mattress...")

Friday, November 17, 2006


Here I've tried out my new sushi molds. Aren't they cute!? The bears, boy and girl are stuffed with tuna salad. The smaller shapes are seasoned with furikaki (for dh - he's a vegy.) These really made my lunch the next day a sweet experience. I packed them in a bento box with carrot, pepper and celery strips and a satsuma tangerine.

***Secret Pal Love***

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

very important swap news!

Yesterday, P. #2 and I took a special drive allllll the way out to the post office in Watsonville. We waited in line for a little while with our pink slip of paper. The guy at the counter was dubious when I showed him my i.d. "Aurora?" he frowned. Then he looked at the Princess (who insists on sitting on the counter - though she's a little big) and says "Ooooh, it's for her, right?" And I go, "Yeah." Then I sign as her "official signer". He goes back and rummages around for awhile and then he brings out this package. I warned him that there was going to be a couple more (yay!)

Malaysia! All the way from Malaysia...sounds so exotic, I was intrigued. It was only a short drive home before I opened it.

Everything was so colorful, tropical, and evoking of peace...bright cans of incense, gorgeous hari clips trimmed with silk orchids; Half Cotton yarn in quiet colors, sushi molds, a Japanese Zakka crochet book (help, Michele!). I allowed Princess #2 to cut apart the string of Chinese Zodiac animals (forgive me, pal) and she loved playing with them. Midget loved the rat in particular.

Also for my daughter, a cute and unique paint organizer, that we decided to try out right away.

We opened a long coveted strip of neon paints and painted frames for our Yule gifts. These will hold her first official school picture. We worked very, very hard (notice the tongue sticking out)

Thank you so much, pal from Malaysia...those clips are going to be fabulous in my hair when we go to Hawaii. I love, love, love everything! I'm so glad you are my pal.

I hope to show you some of the Yule craft projects I have been working on too! Stay tuned OK!

Monday, November 13, 2006


We have five cats living at our house. When dh and I merged seven (or is it eight?) years ago, we each had four cats apiece. We downsized to four altogether about a year or so ago. Then we found this one...she is the most interesting cat I've ever lived with.

We found her on the way to Petsmart one summer day...a woman was sitting in her car and "pssst! Pssst! Do you want a cat?" The first response was no, thank you, of course we had enough...until we saw her. She is little and black and lithe, like mercury...she had thirteen white hairs under her chin. The woman was furtive. "We were going to get this cat at the SPCA" she began. "Then they told us she wasn't available, so we bought this one. Now we've just gotten a call and it seems we can pick up the other one after all...we really don't need two. Would you like this one? I paid $75 dollars for her" - she thrust the receipts at us- "and she's had all her shots" - again with a fistful of papers. She seemed just wacky enough, at that moment, to soften us up...and then the kitty was ours.

We handed her over to Princess #2 in the car on the way home, and they have been inseparable ever since. These two do everything together! We named the little cat Princess Licorice, but her nickname is doesn't seem like she's grown too much in the last couple of years. She's the only one we allow in the house - OK, she pretty much lives in the house all the time...she and the littlest girl have an unreal bond, quite interesting to watch. No matter how tortured, this cat bounds back and asks for more. And at night they curl up together like they came from the same litter or something. It's really sweet.

The tenants that lived here before us had eight cats and when they left, one got left behind (they were driving to Florida in a motor home...I often wondered how that worked out for them, he he.) They called later and told us if we found her, we should call such-and-such, they would come retrieve her. Evidently she was the matriarch, the oldest and probably the mom to all the others. We saw her only briefly in the first days of settling in, and then she disappeared.

It took about a year before she started showing up again, shadowlike, sitting at the edge of the garden. Another year before she would enter the garage where the other cats lived, attempting to eat along with them. She always looked pretty healthy, so we let her be. Months went by before dh was able to touch her, and then she was like a starving thing, starving for love and to reclaim her home. She became the most affectionate one of the outside bunch, and enjoyed her days curled up on her special pillow by the dryer.

A couple of weeks ago dh mentioned he thought Mama Cat (as P. #2 named her - after all, she looked pretty much like Midget's mommy!) looked older and frailer than usual. Softy to the core, he ran out and got her a litter box and dishes, setting up a nice bed for her, convinced she'd never survive another mountain winter outdoors. The next day, she ventured inside for the first time - we were surprised to see her, and even more shocked when she jumped up on our bed and snuggled in. I snapped this picture of her right away.

The next day she wandered outside, and we never saw her again.

Goodbye, Mama Cat. May the angels guide you home.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

my backyard

Some random thoughts on a rainy Saturday morning...

* I have a pretty short attention span. I try to make headway on the Little Leaf Lace scarf, but all I can manage is a couple of rows here and there, while P. #2 plays at the park. Yes, there have been many graceful evenings that were open to options like knitting, but fell instead to wine and Sex in the City reruns.
Wine + Lace = Certain Disaster.

*Today I have been hired to entertain the children at my friend's son's birthday party. He will be two, but most of the guests are in the 5 - 6 year old range (my particular specialty.) In the plans: face painting, storytime and singing games, a little moving around (hokey pokey, etc.) and then stringing Fruit Loop necklaces. I'm really looking forward to it, along with the extra money I'll save for Hawaii.

* Did I mention we are going to Hawaii?! We leave December 4th for ten days. We are all so excited about it...dh will run the Honolulu Marathon again, and we have a condo just blocks from the beach. Horsey Girl will be joining us this year, as well as the in laws and my sweet sil, she is really fun! Anyway, I'm stashing some cash away, a little lei money if you's very important to have a fresh lei on at all times when on the island. Some people would smirk when they hear we are staying in Waikiki...but when you live as remotely as we do normally, being right in the thick of the big city action is pretty exciting. We love it!

* Along the same subject, I'm happy to report I have lost thirteen pounds since September (my favorite number!) I did this through a combination of daily 1 1/2 hour walks (lots of uphill) and cutting back on mindless eating, especially white food. I'm happy to report it worked very well, but I'm still nervous to put on a bathing suit, and I'll probably try to find one in Hawaii since the selection will be vast. (Think: coverage!) Anyway, I have about 14 more to go for my goal weight. I think I can, I think I can, I think I can...

* Wednesday was the anniversary of my sweet Dad's death, and I spent it with my Mom. We went out to the cemetery and talked of memories and how much we miss him. I wish he could have had more time with my girls. He loved children and he would have been so proud. My mom says she isn't lonely, but she is lonesome, and there's a difference.

* On the same visit, we discussed Thanksgiving. Seems we'll have quite a crowd at my sister's house this year! When I complained at always being given drink duty, I was immediately assigned a more substantial list: cranberry relish (I made it the first time last year and it was a huge hit!), candied yams (recipes please!!!), ambrosia salad (just a lot of can opening, there) and potato rolls. Goddess, give me strength. I feel flattered, but a little faint...

Hope you enjoyed the pictures...fall in the forest is truly majickal.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

when life gives you pumpkins

By popular demand, the recipe for pumpkin muffins. I got it from November's Cooking Light. It is even yummier than it sounds. (I put my own substitutions in parenthesis! I never seem to have exactly what I need...) You can make these up to two days ahead.

2 1/4 c flour
2 t pumpkin pie spice
1 1/2 t baking soda
1 t ground ginger (1 T fresh grated ginger)
1/4 t salt
1 cup golden raisins (regular raisins) (no raisins)
1 c packed brown sugar (1/2 c brown, 1/2 c white)
1 c canned pumpkin (your own leftover pumpkin, steamed and mooshed)
1/3 c buttermilk (soy milk)
1/3 c canola oil
1/4 c molasses
1 t vanilla
2 large eggs
Cooking spray (paper cupcake cups)
2 T granulated sugar (holiday sprinkles)

1. Preheat oven to 400.

2. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, ginger, and salt in a medium bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Stir in raisins; make a well in center of mixture. Combine brown sugar, canned pumpkin, buttermilk, canola oil, molasses, vanilla, and eggs, stirring well with a whisk. Add sugar mixture to flour mixture; stir just until moist.

3. Sppoon batter into 18 muffin cups coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with granulated sugar. Bake at 400 for 15 minutes or until wooden pick comes out clean.

The success of these muffins is evidenced by the lack of pictures...they were gone too soon. Enjoy!

Monday, November 06, 2006

little leaf lace

Fall has turned out to be incredibly gorgeous here in the forest. The colors of the path as I took my walk last week reminded me of my current knitting project.

This is the silk/cashmere skein sent to me from my Birthday Swap Pal. The pattern is called Little Leaf Lace, from the 2005 365 Days of Knitting calendar. This is my very first attempt at knitting lace so please, be took me five tries to finally get the pattern down. The instructions proclaimed it to be "easy, good for first time lace knitters", and with any luck, it will resemble the picture after I've blocked's about three inches shy of the finished width at present.

It's supposed to be a kind of viney pattern...I don't know why my yarnovers aren't more holy though. I know that I knit kind of tight. I don't think this closeup is helping my case, but I want you to know how incredibly soft this yarn is. It will be heaven looped around my neck in the misty days to come.

Last thing, I wanted to flash my recent garage sale buy...three adorable aprons from the 50's, $1.00 each. The fabrics are so mellow, each one has been worn and washed and worn again...I love how they look on too. Each one covers well and has been immaculately sewn, with bias tape edges and a sweet little pocket. I am really enjoying these.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


On a recent hike I came across this amazing web. It was about two feet across, and perfect. There were actually several webs stretching across the same span of redwood branches, all glistening in the early morning sun. The smaller ones had residents too - little spiders perched warily in the middle of each one, waiting for breakfast, I suppose. As I stood there gazing at them, I was filled with wonder for the craft of spinning, and a certain silvery energy began to fill me, something I had felt before.....
It took a good part of the afternoon, but I managed to find my spindle, buried in a long forgotten spot. Some time ago I had arranged my fiber stash in one convenient basket, and I had some fun petting and squeezing before settling on a likely wad. Oh, the joys of spinning are really indescribable. It's an energy so ancient. It's alchemy, true majick! It's trance inducing and positively addicting...I spun, and spun, and felt a deep connection with my spidery friends...this picture shows the twist pretty well, doubling back in a pleasing ply quite nicely.
The more I handle my spindle the more majickal it becomes, a tool so simple and beautifully perfect in its function. I'm mesmerized by its movements, the repetition of twirling the shaft, drawing out the fibers, watching the energy of the twist climb to meet my fingers...up, up, up, and then the slow winding of the finished yarn, then repeat, repeat. It's quiet work, a meditation.
Native American women were said to have rubbed their hands with spider webs before sitting down to weave or spin. It was to bring the energy of the spider to their work...perfect in its simplicity. I think I will try that too, but only with abandoned webs!

This fiber is 100% Alpaca, sent to me early in my blogging career from my dear friend Christine. It's dyed with two kinds of Koolaid...the color reminds me of something edible, and it smells a little like cherries.
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