Sunday, June 17, 2012


I am faced with a daunting trip to Minnesota as my mother is in the hospital. It may or may not include a side trip to Oklahoma to pick up my sister... I have to decide tonight and leave tomorrow.

reading with mom

and Happy Father's Day to our lovely Daddy and my best friend Mark :) who took these pictures last night!

new dry erase board for $1.00
we had a lot of fun with it

Something I want to work on with her (and have been) is reading time on digital clock and also reading price expressions of money. She has been attempting on her own but a simple reminder like 'left to right' helps a lot. She tried to read a clock to me the other day and mixed all the numbers up which didn't really help me know what time it was.

She knows a lot more words than I was giving her credit for before - but still misses 'easy' ones like 'ball' and 'out'. I follow as her interest does, but last night after a bit she just wanted to play Smurfs... which is hard for me to switch back gears to being Papa Smurf yelling at Brainy...

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Another size 5 by Helen Lee

McCalls 5127 young girls dress pattern with artist smock

I've been using the other size 5 dress pattern I scored last year for .. well .. about a year isn't it? OK. 8 months. The 8001 that I altered to be without the pleat. I think she has four or five dresses that have been made with that pattern and they still fit. I found this one and had to snap it up - even though I usually will not pay over 5 to 7 dollars for a pattern shipped. I did. It will be my birthday soon :) Right? It is by designer Helen Lee, which I am always drawn to, as well.

The artist smock and the dress together are just right.
It is winging its way to me in the mail and should probably, I hope, be here by the end of the week.

Friday, June 15, 2012

garden bits and projects

I got the first dried Bosnian beans today from those I had put on strings two weeks ago. It is a lovely variety that I do want to help preserve! The Provider green beans from last years seeds are starting to put on beans and are producing well. There was a pumpkin the other day and a tiny blue Hubbard that said it was finished and wasn't getting any bigger. The lima beans are beginning to put on pods and there is a tomato or two that is ripe nearly every day - and a few that are working on pinking up. There are eggplants and zucchini and a single cucumber. One ear on the field corn looks ready and all of the rest are still very tiny... end of the row and pollination etc.

The grey basketweave scarf/shawl thing I was working on

Esme is actually wearing two dresses - one over the other, because she thinks it is pretty. It is, but I swear it must be hot! She wants to help me cook and sew in the house and pretended the other day that she was going to work and her toys were children who had to stay home and be good and eat their crackers and watch tv and play. She 'likes you go to work Mama' now.. but of course that won't last very long and she is just working things out to see what results she gets.

She calls this orange dress her cook apron - and is happy she can put it on almost all by herself. She wants me to wear my 'work cook dress' as well and we can cook food downstairs. She helped me make garlic bread last night. I got the garlic down, melted the butter, got the pan and aluminum foil and asked her to spread out the bread, spoon on the butter and then sprinkle the garlic over it. She did all of that very happily! Afterwards, and while I stressed we keep an eye on the garlic bread to see when it browned, she helped spoon ravioli and carrots from cans onto our plates and dump the excess into tupperware containers. She thought she was so big and helping to make dinner - and she ate every last little bit on her plate!

I also got her to eat a piece of cucumber today - not that she liked it. I told her she couldn't be good at cooking unless she knew what things tasted like. She agreed to that idea. Her favorite pretends lately are 'super mailman' who rides a bicycle and throws mail, and a cross between chef and magician. She takes her big rubber frog out in the sand with this tiny 'dissection' looking kit of a playdough plastic knife and a tray and a pot and I ask her what in the world she is pretending - she says she is making pie for the frog to eat and she needs the plastic knife to cut the pie for the frog and the pot has soup and the tray is his plate. Never assume with this child - as Daddy said as well today, you ask her she will have an explanation, but it will rarely be anything we could have thought up ourselves!

Our science experiment today is what will and will not be floated by a helium balloon. I am asking her to 'estimate' if something is heavy or light. If it will go down (be heavy) or go up (be light). She brings me two things and I ask her which one is the heavier one and she has to estimate or guess. She really likes the game and I can see her gears turning!

She is also getting VERY tall. There is this top shelf we store games on so she does not get into them all of the time without asking. She can now get her black chair and reach all the way up there to put something back after she is done with it. She can't quite reach all the way up to get something off yet - but she is so close. It is only a short matter of time!

I saw this pattern in a Japanese craft book and spent about an hour trying to figure out what the English name for it was. I really wanted to try it. For the record the quilt pattern is called 'apple cores' and after using that as a search term I found a template very quickly. I made two patches and put them together and decided this would be a new scrap project for me - build up some little scraps and then take a day to make a few patches and sew them on. It is so pretty and looks a lot more 'complex' than it was, which is always nice! I saw a beautiful Grandmother's Garden (hexagons) pattern again as well... but one thing at a time. Wait, was that ME that said that? I am never one thing at a time. I am, however, often limiting myself to one thing of a TYPE at a time... sometimes not even that.

I have a cotton tank top I was working on knitting last month that may be done soon. And I have that knit garter stitch blanket that is about 3/4 done now (after nearly two years). I have laundry going and soup cooking and an eggplant to decide how to prepare. I cut up and froze everything from the garden that did not go in the soup and prepared all of the dried herbs from a few days ago to put in containers. It has been a nice Friday off :)

Things on my Mind
With vacations (two shorter ones than last year - broken up this year because of scheduling conflicts) coming up I need to keep my eyes on what I want to accomplish.

a.) zippered lunchbox. This is a big project, and one I need to do. My lunchbox is coming to the end of its long useful life. Hey, it's me. Yes I could go buy one. But, I know I don't have to.

b.) harlequin or chevron type blanket - this is just an idea to add to the list, not something to 'get done.' I'm thinking larger squares or triangles at least 4 to 6 inches across.

c.) brush case - Mark says this is a little more 'Martha Stewart' than usual for me - but I am actually basing the idea for this off of what I saw in nomadic household items during my research into weaving. And also, they keep showing up in the Japanese books I am looking through. I'm thinking a sewn one, with a zipper or a button. It keeps the brush (and the hair oil it collects) from gathering dust from the air around it. In our case the brushes are sometimes also hard to locate again after we have used them - and a simple box sometimes collects lots of other things as well.

d.) skirt for me - I have several large swathes of fabric I have been reserving to make some clothes for myself. I have gotten so much use out of the yellow one from last year that it would be worth time to make another one.

e.) Other clothes for Esme, of course... need to finish sewing the sheep shirt I cut out and never sewed while she still has a chance of fitting into it!

f.) sashiko

Thursday, June 14, 2012


Esme loves her 'instruments' - which have been a toy flute and a xylophone. She was obsessed with the idea of a guitar a few weeks ago (a pink guitar - if I remember correctly) and Grandma and Daddy found this in a closet at her house. She is working on figuring it out - and although I have shown her a youtube video of someone playing a guitar she says 'that man hold the guitar no no no I am too little I need to GROW'. She is working out how to make sounds she likes, and just basically mash on it as it is missing a string and the tuning buttons won't stay put. This one can teach her some things before we decide if we will get her one her size later.

I am off to the garden to see how many vines broke tying them up yesterday. The tomatoes were a terrible mess... and a lot of the Romas were rotting just because of their own vine weight.

Esme has school this afternoon and I need to bring her in and bathe her and brush hair before we go, too. Then she is off school until next Tuesday. I am off work today and tomorrow. That will be nice!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


Esme is washed and hair detangled and braided and in decent clothes off to school... and I am off to work for my closing shift. I hope she has fun and comes back happy from school. She says all the kids and ladies love her there and she has to rescue the kids from the fighting men (kick, punch, cheer) and there is a blue beaver with hearts in its eyes that is going in her backpack (imaginary) and she is going to bring him to school to see everything. And she is mad at me because brushing her hair was such a trial - it was so tangled. She would not sit still for anything and was apt to run around the room and/or play dead at different intervals. But, it is finished - and she looks like she actually has straight hair again!

Off to pack a lunch and get everything ready for my work. I feel like I've already pulled a shift in the cleaning industry giving that bath and hair brushing!

It is my big brother's birthday today, as well - he is in Minnesota.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Paper lantern and felt turtle

A few of the other projects kicking about this week. I made the lantern last night at Esme's request. I'd made one a long time ago I won't let her play with - so this one is hers (and thus, the not-so-careful construction as the other one had... it is likely not to live long). I also made her a pair of pants, which will be needed this week. Off to work for me... and updated no day off until Thursday :(

Saturday, June 09, 2012

bits of yarn and rutabaga

fine wool basketweave scarf

My projects are beginning to roll together for the beginning of my book. This is one of those things I would not have made except as an example right now (more of a winter thing), but it is pretty and coming along well. I have finished the teatowel set and also a small turtle pincushion that Esme has claimed as a toy and immediately introduced to her plastic turtle as a new baby. So, I might need to make another pincushion ;) We will see.

There was one rutabaga in my garden - and in the past few days something began to chew on the leaves. So, I pulled it up. It was about three to four inches of gnarled white root about twice as large as a carrot. When peeled and cut up into tiny bits the characteristic yellow flesh showed that it was indeed a rutabaga - and the scent. I know I'm weird.. but I love the smell of a rutabaga before it is cooked. We didn't have them often growing up, either - but it has just always been a 'good' thing. That is good for me :) Someone has to like them! I put the pitiful small amount of diced rutabaga (they are so much easier to cut when they are small like this, btw) into a pan with a small amount of water, salt, pepper and butter. I added some frozen zucchini and some green beans, summer squash and fresh shelly beans from the garden. Boiled and stewed for about an hour it was a very nice chowdery soup of greens, yellows and purples.

I am disappointed at the garden this year - even though it is providing food every day or so - everything is bugged and full of weeds and lackluster. The corn has fallen down, but is tasselling and silking all it can anyway... the squash bugs are on the squash, and they are fruiting as much as they can to survive. The beans are doing well but there are very few of most of the varieties. I know I will need to save seed off the Bosnian bean (absolutely a great variety I am so impressed) but feel shortchanged because it is also one of the few that is producing and leaving the pods to go to seed risks something damaging them and also not having that produce at the same time. But - I must try to get some seed off of it. Most of the things from last year that I have used seed from have done as expected. There is that one 'a squash' that is NOT what it should be. The seed was saved out of a pumpkin and is developing something that looks like a globular yellow summer squash with green stripes. All of the other pumpkins are fruiting green with green stripes like last year.

This may prove to be a hard week at work - shorthanded, early hours, no day off until Wednesday. Esme starts back to her school Tuesday and Thursday of this week, in the afternoon. I really should sit down tomorrow when I get home from work and make her at least one more pair of pants... she has shredded so much of her clothing in the past few weeks and there hasn't been anywhere 'presentable' she needed to be so I have just been patching it and sending it through the washing machine to be used again.

She is REALLY cute with the soccer games.. and the smurfs, and the red shirts and blue shirts and referees and everything else that comes up from her imagination during this.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Techie girl, garden pictures and a little garden friend

Our little tech girl using the trackball and listening on her headphones as she plays the Sims game. She is reading a few more of the commands correctly to me off the screen - she has known 'what they do' for a while, but now is reading the actual words for 'call' and 'taxi' and a few others. She is understanding more how not to make her people 'all red unhappy', how to get them around 'downtown' and why it isn't such a good idea to use all your money to buy balloons and teddy bears and paint your person into a corner so they can't get out. She puts the headphones in and guides herself into the game, pauses, saves and shuts down when she is done... it's pretty cool!

We have also been playing 'soccer' in the mornings the past few days - but it was interrupted by red shirts, blue shirts, referees and dragons and octopi this morning. She surprised me by turning our kicking practice into a 'run down the court and score a goal' practice.

Strawberry blonde sunflowers

tomatoes, black krim and lemon boy
they went into spaghetti!

Bees pollinating in our corn early this morning

I was pulling up grass and weeds in the garden and this little guy popped up! I ran inside to get the camera and took some pics of him before setting him off into our corn so he wouldn't be stepped on until I was finished weeding.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012


Esme and I received her other Morris book (Morris Goes to school) last night and she enjoyed it very much. She has 'forgotten' how to read some words, mostly the little ones like 'the' and 'you' but was able to get others like 'boys' and 'girls' on the bathroom doors in the book with great gusto. There was lots of giggling, as the book is very funny. She has the other two books, as well, and it came reccommended by the group I belong to for where she is right now. I am working more on my outline for a craft book. There are several projects on my table - a long felted scarf and a set of teatowels. I want the book to have lots and lots of projects that are traditional and useful, and provide ways to build skills so even the beginners can begin to infuse their homes with handmade items bit by bit as their confidence grows. There are lots of books that do this - but I think mine can be expansive and inspiring in ideas while simple in technique and instruction. The book will take a lot of photography and writing and layout. I don't have a publisher - feel there needs to be lots of material and if a publisher does not accept it we will publish it ourselves at a later date.

Esme is watching Babar, which is so so so much better than Dora. Dora was annoying me because of the 'demanding' habits she has and the 'now quick faster do it' attitude. Esme was picking up on that and trying to apply it to us and everything around us. Babar has much better manners ;) and better language, as well, which she needs. Thank you Daddy :)

The garden is producing beans, zucchinis and herbs. The zinnias are beautiful! There are new colors from this years seeds mixed with the colors from last years volunteers. Soon, there will be tomatoes, but not quite yet. I need to do a lot of work out there - but no day off until Friday...

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Sew all the bears Mom

Esme saw me looking through craft book ideas last night and she pointed out a (very different looking) teddy bear as something we should make. "Sew all the bears Mom. Make them FAT, stuff them all full of fat in their bellies like this, and fat toes, and hands, too!." She chose purple. She helped hand me tools, get stuffing and on a few of the embroidery parts I let her help me get the thread and pull the needle out where I had started each stitch. She thought she was doing big work - and really enjoyed it. This morning she already wants me to make another one - or 'all of them'... a set. We will see what happens. I do have to go to work today, too.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

mental stretch

I needed a little mental stretch lately. I began to read Attanasio again, for maybe the tenth time since I was a teenager - Last Legends of Earth. I love that book. It is one of the few I can reread. It is described as a 'science fiction fairytale that spans spacetime'. And the author uses such beautiful language and prose. I always find a word I have to think hard to remember the definition of. I always forget exactly what happens to this character in the huge number of ones he has woven together through different changing levels of space and time - and then sometimes, just before it is once again revealed, the depths of my memory release the details and I am sad to remember before it can once again be a surprise. But, joyfully, there are still surprises that are not kept, as well - and they are sweet. He has a 'new' book, new to me - Centuries released in 2010. You can tell I have not been keeping up, eh? I have put it on an order we may get for my birthday this month. But, I have to finish this reading of LLE. I think it is almost a part of my personal mythology now.. the way I see the Universe, although I don't mean as a religion. I love the way he interconnects all things in it though - which does tie in somewhere along the number line of what I believe. All things react to all else - are always somewhere and albeit separated by thousands of lightyears and time years - some of it still manages to reach out and connect with that which it seemed it never could. That is a deep thought. It is a beautiful thought.

simple chair pad

Anyway, enough philosophizing, for now. Besides the book I was cleaning up my worktable - Mark got me a new rubbermaid to put the overflow of fabric in to keep it in prime shape... I was looking through a lot of Japanese books which I have not done in at least six months. The influx of ideas for elegant homemade items has inspired me some again. After that last night I sat down and made a simple sewing chair cover and it was nice to see it come together almost as planned. I woke up this morning from under our handmade quilt and pillowcases, to put on a handmade sweater, pajama pants and slippers... feeling a little Japanese in the fact that all of these are items similar to what I had seen in the books. I love that it is all possible in tiny stitches over time, and last for so long after the moment of 'finish' to become a part of our daily lifestyle. It is almost as if, at times, every flash of memory, music, movie snippets, conversation, it all gets tied up inside the item I am making and some of it can be accessed at a later date - not all of it, but just a feeling, a tinge, a window back in time. I can still remember 'what I was doing' with many of the things I have made, although the memories sometimes fade over time to one specific thought or window instead of many. There is a little bit of that 'spacetime' feel of the book to that for me... and where those thoughts lay across each other, melding and coagulating, I feel the most at home. Something I have made, that will last, and be a joy, and 'contain' all of the memories created during the making and the using of it. Then, I feel I have done well.

Things I love lately: Esme, when faced with something she didn't want, says 'Wait wait wait I need to think about this!' ie: Daddy put on a different movie than the one she was asking me about last night and she said that again. The first time I recall it was when I mixed iced tea with her watered-down juice one day because I thought it tasted good in my glass (and we were low on juice). She saw me mixing the two things and said 'wait wait' because she knew that was her glass and she was unsure if that was a good idea for her. She did like it, though. She is trying more new things like that.

Last night she asked Daddy for a 'bologna and pork sandwich.' And Daddy made it for her - a slice of bologna and ketchup sprinkled over with barbequed shredded pork on two pieces of bread. We giggled at the idea, which she has brought up before and was at that time dismissed (we had just made the pork and did not think she was serious). She ate the entire sandwich and was happy about it. OK then, our weird child...what should we expect? And last night after I made the chair pad Esme wanted to try it out. She sat down on it and then asked me for my glasses. She wanted to try it out 'in full' and pretend to be Mama the way I was doing it. No dice kid, I keep the glasses, but nice try!

Friday, June 01, 2012


Esme redefined 'tuck myself in' last night as coming across the house to kiss Daddy goodnight since she was bawling about having to go to bed a minute before when he had offered to kiss her goodnight and tuck her in. He had told her that her attitude had gotten in the way of her rituals and gave up - and after she finished crying she marched determinedly to complete it herself. We would have been more firm with her for staying in bed if her scowl expression and pure intent was not just so funny. We both had to keep ourselves from laughing as she charged across the hall saying 'OK I tuck myself in', offered a kiss, tucked Daddy's blanket in and then went back to her own bed and put herself under the covers again. ?? She calls out 'I see you in the morning!' to us, and lays down to sleep with no more fit. We giggle - trying not to let her hear us, because it is just so ... Esme, and she is so serious about 'then this is the way it should be done!'

She has been doing a lot this past week that shows she is maturing just a tiny bit emotionally. More humor - more bargaining, more arguing again. She throws a fit and then has an analysis several minutes later about what she is mad about and why Mom and Dad didn't fix the problem/react as expected. It can be hard though, for us, to keep a straight face when her seriousness borders on the absurd.