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This is for you, Becca……

I think you are beautiful. Smile…..it makes all of the difference. Here is a picture of me, no make up and pouting. Then another, no make up…smiling. I will not be on the runway…ever, but smiling makes all the difference in the world. I love you….love yourself!

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My little beekeeper

Just a quick picture of Mycah’s in her suit and veil. She is going out with Poppa for her first in depth beekeeping experience. She hasn’t had a suit until now. She has helped some but really wanted the security of a suit…so she is now ready for go!

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Pictures

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Misc……

It’s been a busy summer here. I feel like I have spent the entire Summer behind and without enough energy to do everything I want. (or at least everything I think I should be able to do and still have time to enjoy life)
I spent the day with the girls…all day…a day they needed and I needed. We are together all of the time except for the 30 or less hours I work each week. But, I spend so much of my down time trying to play catch up that we don’t spend large chunks of quality time together. So today, we finished breakfast and were in Grey’s room by 10. Grey spent all day working on making American girl doll hammocks using her sewing machine. I was there for moral support and the occasional tech assistance or to talk her down off the ledge. Mycah cuddled up with me and I helped her with her hand sewing and we watched Julia and Jaques make desserts on Hulu. We all had a really good time. I also knit a bit between consultations. Grey said this was the best day ever and I have to agree. Here are pics of Grey creating and of her creations. I am also throwing in picks of the 16 pounds of zuchini I shredded, bread I made, sweater I finished a bit ago and the shawl I started. Busy, busy….but in a good way.

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more tomatoes

The onslaught of tomatoes has caused a bit of a conundrum here. I am thrilled that the cherry tomatoes have done so well, but people are beginning to hide from me when they see me coming with my little basket brimming with toms. It reminds me of a funny NOW story. It wasn’t at all funny at the time….well maybe a little.
Our papa always had an amazing garden. It was one of those that fed us all summer and then through the winter and into the spring when he started planting again. Of course, none of that was possible without our Meme. She was the bean shelled, the canner, slicer, freezer, etc. Meme put up all that stuff Papa grew.
Meme died about four years before Papa…..but Papa never stopped planting. He worked mama into the ground trying to keep up with him. The last two years of his life he decided that he should plant mama’s yard too. He had two enormous gardens, 10 miles apart and saw to them both. He actually passed away in mama’s garden. But, that’s not what I meant to wonder off to….. After Papa died I moved into his house so it wouldn’t be empty. It was early June and the vegetables began rolling in. I didn’t cook much then and was overwhelmed. Henry and I use to pick and pick. I would go door to door to all of his neighbors giving away produce. I took it to work. I did the best I could to get rid of it…..and people began hiding from me. Apparently, you can have too much of a good thing!

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20120720-212347.jpgI am drying aBout a pound of the cherry toms to pack in oil and basil for the winter.


enjoying the garden

I tried a new recipe tonight because I am drowning in cherry tomatoes. I took about three pounds to work today. I got rid of them in about five minutes! I think everyone enjoyed them! But this afternoon I knew I needed to do some serious picking, so I found a recipe to use them up. I picked another pound or so and used two pints in this recipe. The recipe is from The Heirloom Tomato, a gorgeous book by Amy Goldman. The book is brimming with photos,descriptions and recipes using heirloom tomatoes. The recipe I chose was Spaghetti with Cherry Tomatoes and Toasted Crumbs…..yes, I said toasted crumbs. Basically you make a tomato and shallot salad dressed in a vinaigrette. It marinates for an hour while you put a loaf of bread through a food processor to make crumbs and then toast them in olive oil and salt in the oven and cook the spaghetti. When the spaghetti is done you toss in the tomato salad and fresh basil. Then you serve it with the toasted crumbs on top and some Parmesan cheese. The girls were very hesitant about it and I was afraid this was going to be a fail…..but it wasn’t. It was amazing. We all loved it. I am so glad necessity made me dig around for something to do with our bumper crop of little tomatoes. I will definitely be making this again.

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Heat wave update and fence progress

We have had a week of hellish temperatures here. We had three days in a row of 102-105….real temps, not heat index! It has taken a toll on my garden! But we are still getting plenty of tomatoes, eggplant and okra. I’m not sure how long the garden can make it inthis heat and total lack of rain. Pluseyewear were gone for two fullweeks in June and the garden suffered a little neglect. We have finally gotten our contractor to get over and get the fence done. It is pretty close to being finished and will need painting. This will finish all construction on the garden. I can’t wait. The brick path is done and all we lack is the patio and lawn substitute.

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the girls made a garden out of candies and cupcakes!

the girls made a garden out of candies and cupcakes!


Garden Update June 2

Sorry I missed last week folks.  I’ve just been so busy.  I ordered a bunch of potato sets ans worked on the girls fairy garden trying to get it straightened out so that I can share it with the fairies.  I did check with them and they said ok.  So, I worked for 2 days pulling weeds and digging up weed bulb or seed…whatever it is that makes them keep coming up.  Then, I had to relay the stone.  That is where I ran into trouble.  I have never laid stone.  I have a pretty good understanding of how it should be done, but it turns out I lack one important piece of the puzzle…..the ability to pick up and move stone large enough to do what needs to be done.  Henry saw my handiwork and asked if I would like help.  Of course!  He had to take out 90% of my work and he worked on it on and off all week.  Bottom line….no potato bed, still.

The garden is changing on a daily basis now.  I got three squash mid-week and cooked them with onions.  They were very good, but three squash is not much.  Yesterday I picked 5 and I may get one or two more today.  That will be enough for a good mess.  I also have radishes coming out of my ears.  I found a recipe for braised radishes in Mark Bitman’s cookbook and will try those tonight as well.

My one big problem with the garden right now is cucumber beetles.  Now, don’t be fooled by the name.  They eat squash, cucumbers, melons…any cucurbit. I have used and organic repellant of essential oils and insecticidal soap.  Neither of these worked and I feel they may like it.  I am going to make some hot pepper spray today and see if that works.  I am trying not to use neem oil as it will kill beneficial bugs as well as the bad guys.  I bought a book called Good Bug, Bad Bug and she suggests using beneficial bugs to fight off pests.  The only problem is I am afraid I’m to late for that.  Nevertheless, I am getting produce….it just looks like I may have to share it with the bad guys this year!


Gardening May 20 and a Finished Object

Well, the garden is growing by leaps and bounds.  I am a week late in staking the tomatoes and like always…I regret it!  Good grief, they have taken on a life of their own and I am waiting for one of them to stand up and say “FEED ME.”  I started making tepees for the tomatoes and cutting them back, but only got through five or so. I went ahead and put the tepees in, but have not yet trimmed and tied up the rest.  I was too busy finally unfurling my espalier fruit trees.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Espalier  We have five apples, a crab apple and two pears.  We have not been able to allow them to be completely untied because we had not finished the permanent support system for them.  Today Henry finished the work (with a little help from my dad) and we were able to remove all temporary support and attach them to their new home.  I am so thrilled.   They look stunning and I found a couple of pears growing and a lot of crab apples.  I was hoping for fruit this year, but not counting on it due to transplant shock.  I think we will get a little, but not much.  Next year should be great, though.

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In totally unrelated news, I finished the skirt I have been working on for about six weeks.  I sew on the bus and any time I am waiting in line or for the girls.  This skirt is from Natalie Chanin’s first book, Alabama Stitch Book.  http://www.amazon.com/Alabama-Stitch-Book-Celebrating-Contemporary/dp/B004KAB3FC/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1337567159&sr=8-3  As you can see on her site, you can purchase a hand made skirt from her and would not have to do the work.  http://alabamachanin.com/store/collection  However, I am a little too stingy and a lot too interested in making to actually by one.  She shows all fo her techniques and even gives the patterns in her books.  I had the good fortune to meet her one time when I took a workshop with her and I must say…she is very genuine and warm.  I love her business model, her dedication to sustainability and her love of her home.  AND>>>>>>I LOVE MY SKIRT!

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I have to say…I am feeling a little lost without my skirt at my side, calling out to me to do a little stitching.  I have to decide what to start on next.  I really want to make a couple of tops from her newest book.  I wonder if I can get it done before our vacation???


Garden Update

I have decided to TRY to record the garden changes here.  I am curious to see how the garden changes from week to week.  It’s funny, I always have some sort of garden amnesia at the end of the season.  I don’t even remember the time when it was puny and did not look like it was going to make.  Also, I hope that I will be able to look back on it in years to come to bolster my spirits when the garden is at it’s beginning in the spring, when I am sure I can squeeze one more tomato plant in that bed or maybe I need to plant a few extra zucchini “just in case.”

So here is the garden one week after the last set of photos.  

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What I’ve been up to>>>>>>>

Hello to all of my three readers!  I thought I would stop by and fill you in.  I have been:

Walking for MS

 

Planning and planting

 

Enjoying the girls’ May Faire

 

 

Sorry for the picture heavy post and I will try to elaborate on some of the things later…but let me say…it’s been a busy spring and only promises to be a busier summer!


Becca on my mind….

Irony of ironies….I’ve spent the weekend cooking and this evening knitting.  Of course, this is not unusual for me.  The weekends around here include all things home….cleaning, cooking, spending time with the girls, hanging out, knitting…ect.  None of this could be considered ironic or even odd, except that I’ve been thinking about my sis in France over the last few days, a lot.  I was getting ready to post my photos of dinner tonight and my new knitting project, when I just realized that my new favorite cookbook is named Around My French Table and the pattern I just started, Wrenna, is from a book called French Girls Knits.   Oh, and I forgot…I made French Onion soup for dinner yesterady!!  The recipe for the Onion soup was in the same cookbook.

I also took a photo of the left over scones I made Saturday morning.  Some friend of ours moved from here to Decatur, GA this summer.  Thier youngest was best buds with our oldest.  So, we had them over Saturday and invited the girls from Grey’s class.  I made three batches of scones for us to nibble on and made a fourth batch to take to our new neighbors about five houses down.  Henry and I have appointed ourselves the unofficial welcoming committee on our street.  We may branch out into the neighborhood…just depends on my baking keeping up with the moving!  Anyway, out new neighbors are actual a family from our girls school..  We are so excited to have them.  The number of children in our neighborhood seems to be growing.  I am very excited for the girls.

Here’s a photo of the dinner and a photo of the knitting.

By the way…notice all of those pears?!  My Aunt Nancy brought them to us.  There is about 3 gallons of them.  I plan on making a pear and port compote to can.  It sounds like autumn so much, I can’t resist.  I am imagining serving the compote with turkey this Thanksgiving.   Becca, I wish you were going to be here.  Maybe I can ship a jar of compote.


K is for Kanning (I know, it’s spelled with a “C”)

I am not going to do knitting for the K post because that is too predictable, especially from me.  So, I cheated a bit and I am going to do canning for K since at least the first letter sounds like a K.  It’s my blog and I reserve the right to do as I please ;-).  Anyway, I have been canning all weekend…by that I mean 12 hours a day on Saturday and Sunday.   This is my first real go at canning.  I am starting this year because for a while Henry and I have really been interested in where our food is coming from and what goes in it.  In early spring we decided that we were going to take down a few trees, build a retaining wall and have a really big garden.  It is not finished as it was a bigger undertaking than I first thought, but it will be ready for next year.  I decided to stick my feet in the canning pool this year using vegetables that someone else grew.  We have a really good farmers market in Nashville, so I made a trip last Friday and stocked up on some in season favorites and supplemented with some items that were regional like peaches, as well as some things that are a little further afield…lemons.  My mom let me borrow my grandmother’s water bath canner and a bunch of canning books.  I also bought a pressure canner because I knew some things we would want were not acidic enough to be safe in the water bath canner.

I made lemon curd, peach salsa, peach and almond jam with thyme, red pepper jelly, tomatoes and preserved lemons (salt preservation, no canning for it).  I have to say that while it was not the easiest thing I have ever done, it was not the hardest either.  I do think it is going to prove enjoyable and very, very satisfying and will get easier as I develop a system.  The only real issue I had was something called “siphoning.”  This happens when the contents of a canned item migrates from the jar into the pressure canner.  This happens when the pressure changes too rapidly….the pressure changed too rapidly in my case because I failed to read the part that suggests leaving the items in the canner for five minutes after the pressure returns to zero and after you have removed the vent weight.  Live and learn…I had to reprocess the lemon curd.  now, the taste did not change, but the color changed significantly.  The lemon curd was a beautiful sunny yellow until the second run through the pressure canner…now it is a muddy brown.  I have photographic proof of all of this activity below….even the mud brown lemon curd.  We have already been into everything and found it to be well worth the effort.  I know it will be doubly worth it this winter when we can relive the glory days of summer through food.


J is for Just In

I finished my French Girl Knits Delphine lacy cap sleeve top last night.  Here’s the Ravelry link.   http://www.ravelry.com/projects/Slipping/delphine-lacy-cap-sleeve-top    I just finished it last night in time to wash it and dry it so I could wear it this morning for work  I may have mentioned…I work in a knit shop and I love wearing hand-knits in the store.  I get excited and that makes customers excited and it’s just more fun.  Anyway, I had to weave in the ribbon this morning and made it just in time to get to the store.  The top absolutely has to have the ribbon…if not, it is not a just a “French Girl” knit, it’s a “French Girl in a Bordello knits!”  The sleeves fall down to an off the shoulder type garment….not a good look for a 40-ish year old mom with chunky arms!!!!!


I is for International Traveler

My nephew, Remi, arrived last Wednesday after much anticipation!  We were so excited that we would get to see him again after only 6 months.  This is unheard of.  Remi lives in France with my sister, niece and their father.  Becca, my sis, has been there for about 15 years.  Usually they get to come back to the states once a year.  This time Remi got to travel alone and visit for 2 weeks.  Here he is with Nanny (great-grandmother) fresh off the plane.


G is for Grateful

I have so many things to be grateful for this week.  As you may have noticed, I missed “G” last week.   We were in the Blue Ridge Mountains in GA with our best friends and their twins.  I have a number of photos to show you as proof positive that I have so much to be grateful for.  I’m grateful for a husband who is a better partner than I deserve and who is the father that the girls need; for my beautiful girls who find everything exciting and fresh; for my dearest friend who lets me be crazy while all the time gently nudging me toward a saner place;  for two amazing 15 year olds who are excellent role models and friends to my girls;  for my hubby’s best friend who is always there; and last, but not least, my snuggly bed, two cuddly cats and a cup of Earl Grey with my favorite cookies before bed.  

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PS>>>>> Check out more ABC Posts at the Accidental Knitter  http://accidental-knitter.blogspot.com/2011/06/h-is-for-hairband.html


F is for “Firsts”

It seems as if one experiences an endless parade of “firsts” when becoming a parent.  There are first steps, first words, first smiles.  Then life happens and we forget the everyday firsts we experience with our children.  I was looking through my recent photos for inspiration and found numerous pictures of our girls.  I realized that those everyday pictures are even more precious than I thought.  There are pictures of Grey and Mycah’s first ever May Fair at their amazing school.  There’s a picture of Grey’s first crocheted hat and her first knitted doll (with crocheted clothing), both done at aforementioned amazing school.  Our picnic with Zoe at the park (ok, I admit, not the first of the season and certainly not the last…but give a girl some poetic license, k) And lastly, there is a photo of my first time sitting knee to knee with my friend Camille embroidering names on the apron for Mycah’s teacher.


E is for Enlightened

e was a hard one for me.  I have chosen this word based on a random word generator, so I am really stretching here.  However, I am enlightened after my weekend with Lori.  Lori is my best friend and a master seamstress/costume designer/patterning instructor/college professor…etc.  She has been working with me for a couple of years on my sewing skills.  I have a high desire to learn, but apparently little patience.  I have been progressing steadily and have made two or three dresses for each of my girls, a skirt for each of them and a couple of tops for myself.  With hose items i learned to do pleats, to install and invisible zipper, do a buttonhole, elastic, hem and make small adjustments in a pattern.  the one thing that I have avoided at all cost has been bias tape.  I attempted a blouse from http://www.amazon.com/One-Piece-Wearables-Garments-Accessories-Domestic/dp/1592533442
One Piece Wearables that  made heavy use of boas tape before my sewing lessons with Lori.  I made the rookie mistake of trying to encase the raw edges in one pass and the result was so poor that I threw the entire lot in the trash!  I have avoided all bias since then.  well, that, my friends, is over.  Lori taught me some of the tricks of the trade regarding bias tape using the very same pattern that had kicked my butt before.  So…I have been enlightened…thanks to Lori.  No bias tape will ever kick me again!!!!


D is for Done!….almost

I am almost finished with the apron.  I have embroidered all the names.  All I have left is to embroider “Morning Glory” on the waist band and the Linden School’s symbol on the upper left of the apron body.  I have to say, i have been slogging through this last portion an d stealing time to do other things.  I have knit a pair of newborn booties http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/stay-on-baby-booties-5 from a Churchmouse design for the yarn store I work in and I cast on a pair of clog socks  http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/turkish-bed-socks for myself (also a Churchmouse design).

Here’s a picture of my husband modeling the apron…he’s a little silly at times.

 


Today is World MS Awareness Day

More than likely you know someone, love someone or will meet someone with MS at some point in your life.  Today is World MS Awareness Day.  Here is the link to the National MS Society’s homepage.  http://www.nationalmssociety.org/index.aspx  Please take a minute to look at the site and if you are so moved…act on it.  Thank you.


C is for Crafting Our Lives

Craft is both a noun and a verb.  The noun craft means, among other things, a skill or ability, especially in handwork.  The verb craft means, among other things, to make or fashion with skill.
In college while working on my BFA, majoring in metalsmithing and minoring in sculpture, I had a tenuous and stressful relationship with the notion of “craft.”  In the academic context, “craft” was second tier due to the utilitarian implications of a craft, such as jewelry making, ceramics, fabric arts, etc.  It seemed the only way to legitimize that kind of handwork was to turn it on its head.  Even then, irony reigned supreme when dealing with “crafts.”  On the other hand, my sculpture professor railed about the lack of craftsmanship in some of my peers work.  Craft has forever been a word loaded with meaning for me.
Today, I have allowed myself a little more freedom and take a little more comfort in using the word craft.  I think I prefer craft as a verb and the definition of “to make something with skill.”  Arguably, not everything I do is with the skill of an expert, some may say none of what I do is expert.
Here are some of the thins I have been crafting this week.  not all of them were perfect, but they were done with love and a sincere commitment to doing the best I could at the time.
This is a wall organizer I hacked for my husband.  Henry looses his keys, his wallet and his phone on a daily basis.  I decided that he needed a place to charge his phone, stash his wallet, camera and keys that could live at the front door.  I knew I wanted it to hang on the wall so it was not more clutter on the table.  So, I found these Real Simple wall pouches.  I really liked them other than the bland canvas.  I jazzed them up a bit with some Anna Marie Horner fabric   http://store.annamariahorner.com/  .  (Nashvillan, by the way)  The little pocket is for his cell phone and enables him to plug it in for charging and hang it!  He really likes it and i am really happy I have crafted up some piece for me and him…now I don’t have to nag and he doesn’t have to stomp around looking for his phone!
These are lotion bars I crafted with my friend Aziza.  We are trying to get a little cottage business started.  we are currently focusing on finding the best organic ingredients, perfecting our methods and packaging these little jewels.  They are beeswax, cocoa butter and shea butter.  They smell so good and have no fragrance at all.  Our little lotion bars are more than just lotion bars, they are the product of a couple of women crafting a friendship.
This little picture is terribly hard to see, I know.  But, trust me, it is one of my most favorite things I am currently crafting at the moment.  This is an apron for one of Mycah’s teachers.  Another mom, my friend Camille, is making one just like it for the other teacher in the class.  Mycah is in a mixed age kindergarten.  They are 4, 5 and 6 year olds.  We had them write their own names on a piece of paper and then laid them out in a pleasing composition and transferred them tot he aprons.  We are now embroidering each child’s name.  Each little name I embroider causes me to think of that little person.  The handwriting even looks like each child.  Mycah’s teachers are amazing women and I hope that the little imprint each child left on this apron will remind them of the love those children feel for them.  Camille adapted this idea from Amanda Soule’s book, the Creative Family.  http://www.soulemama.com/  Amanda embroidered her children’s drawings onto linen for simple, beautiful bookmarks.  I thought this was a great adaptation that Camille thought up and cannot wait to finish it so the teachers can enjoy them.
The last set of pictures is from my most important and ongoing project…my family.  Henry and I spend a good deal of time crafting our lives and those of our girls’.  Growing a family is a craft, a skill on is not born with and one that no one tells you how to do.  This was Saturday night a tour first neighborhood movie in the park night.  We walked the 2ish blocks to the park dragging our trusty and dilapidated red wagon filled with a blanket, bug spray, glow sticks and snacks.  The movie of the night was The Goonies.  It was an amazing night, one well worth the effort, just like any fine craft!
Whoops…forgot my little ironic song……….. http://youtu.be/hbjOEnxTF8c

B is for Big Brown Blobs

Let me say this….I LOVE my husband.  As proof I give you…the big brown blob.  Yes, I can even prove how much I love him.  I am 630 yard into a never-ending garter stitch outdoor sweater for him in ….wait for it……brown.  I have never knit Henry a sweater even though I have promised before.  This year is our ten-year anniversary.  (he say 17 years if you count the 7ish we loved together!)  Anyway, I desperately want to give him a sweater he will wear and love for our anniversary.  So around Christmas I started the search for the perfect sweater.  Most were met with great resistance.  In a last-ditch effort, I pulled three sweaters that I felt like we down his alley.  He saw the Adult Tomten by Jared Flood (original is Elizabeth Zimmermann) and he was hooked.  I brought home three different skeins of yarn fo varying weights and colors and nothing pleased him.  So, I said how about the yarn Jared used and of course he said yes but felt the colors were not what he wanted.  So, he picked out a brown  and with probably go with a green for the stripes and edging.  Here’s Jared’s version    http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/adult-tomten-jacket  .  Anyway, I have been knitting on this for a month and am only finally about ready to divide the fronts.  Of course, once I do get there, it should move along much faster….but boy am I slogging away in brown garter stitch land now!

I almost forgot to include one of myfavorite songs for me and Henry…

http://youtu.be/DHEOF_rcND8    


Alphabet Lost and Found

For better or worse, I have decided to join the The ABC’s with the Accidental Knitter. http://accidental-knitter.blogspot.com/2011/05/learn-your-abc-new-meme.html  This is a once a week posting theme based on the ABC’s.  We will post a topic beginning with the week’s letter of the alphabet every Monday.  I have been looking for a way to get back into to posting and I am hoping this is just arbitrary enough to suit me.  We were supposed to start last week with A.  Obviously, it didn’t happen.  So, I will post A tonight and hopefully put up B tomorrow.  I have a ridiculous backlog of photos, projects, stories, etc.  I just felt compelled to link the Might Be Giants song Alphabet Lost and Found because it is so cute and it starts with A.

Here’s a cut picture of Allison’s two littlest and my two making some no bake cookies.  Henry and I took Allison’s oldest and ours to the used bookstore today and Mycah bought a couple of cookbooks.  She immediately began pouring over them and located a simple recipe that we could make with many hands!