Saturday
Dec302006

Domestic Artists





Cooking, knitting, sewing (and all the cleaning up afterwards)--not only are these activities satisfying and productive, but they are also great for building confidence and strengthening family bonds.

Tess got the Green Eggs and Ham Cookbook for Christmas. It's perfectly suited to her temperament; if Dr. Seuss had known Tess, he certainly would have written a book about her. We've made several of the recipes so far, including the title recipe (guacamole makes the eggs green; a parsley coating colors the ham). Tess is now planning our menus for the next several days.

Santa brought Hope a swell sewing machine. It's from the Discovery Channel Store (I had to explain Santa's outsourcing strategies to the girls), and it's a great value. Limited in scope and options, it nonetheless sews much more effectively than you would expect from a toy. Hope made a little handbag yesterday and is anxious to try her hand at a skirt for herself next. Ever inspired by accessories (whose daughter is she?), she has special affection for the wee pincushion that came with the sewing kit.

We're having a luncheon after church on Sunday; the men are in charge of the food. For some reason, the pot luck has turned into a testosterone-fueled lasagna bake-off with many motivated entrants. Patrick made his offerings last night. I'm sure he'll win with this particular judge; Patrick taught me everything I know about pasta sauce, a fact I freely admit whenever someone compliments my Bolognese.

Mom was here over Christmas. We couldn't resist a trip to the fabulous Knittingsmith together. Mom got some chunky yellow alpaca for a cute sweater by Pure and Simple Designs; I got some gorgeous sock yarn. My bulky plum pullover is coming along well, but I felt the need for a quick-gratification project after the success of the girls' hats. The sock does not disappoint in this regard.

And the boys? Christian and James have been prowling the yard with metal detector and large magnet, cleaning up all the screws, nails, and other metal scraps that have been scattered about with abandon throughout the renovation. It's great when cleaning up can be an entertaining adventure. If only I could figure out a way to make dishes and laundry as exciting...

Daniel has been our snuggly muse, happy to consume the fruits of Tess's labors, always available for hugs and positive reinforcement for all. It's been a terrific vacation; I'll be very sorry to see it end next Tuesday.

Friday
Dec222006

Merry Christmas!


Christmas Eve 1975--Here I am (the tallest one) with several siblings. Note the identical huge smiles--Baby Matthew in particular cracks me up! I hope your holidays are filled with peace and joy. I'm not sure whether I'll be blogging for the next several days; we've got a lot going on here, and I'm sure you do, too. But I'll be back very soon; I hope you will join me then.

Wednesday
Dec202006

...the past three months, Part 4



Even living in sheet rock dust with a plywood kitchen, I was able to be somewhat creative in October. We shopped early for the pattern and material for Tess's mermaid costume; it came together pretty well (don't tell her that I sewed the cockleshell purse upside down). I also bottled some pickled spiced crabapples--mmm--can't wait to have them at dinner on Christmas Eve!

Way back in January, I agreed to create a Christmas card for sale through MAG. I'm glad I committed early, because the card was due in the fall, and without the commitment, it probably would not have happened. What an honor it was to be included in a catalog featuring talented artists like Ultra Violet, Valerie Atkisson, and others. I love being associated with this terrific group.

Wednesday
Dec202006

...the past three months, Part 3


Patrick, aka His Majesty, surprised me with a trip to Rome to celebrate my 40th birthday. Yes, indeed, his stock is very high (as if it were ever low). Here's the Quirinale in the light of the setting sun on my birthday. The art, the light, the food, the company--it was a dream of a trip.

Patrick had also arranged for Carmen to meet us there; we love to celebrate our birthdays together (we plan to go to Antarctica for my 5oth/her 49th), and this was definitely one to remember. On our way to the catacombs of San Callisto, we encountered a shepherd and his flock of sheep! This, of course, made our pilgrimage perfect.

Other travel: In October I went to a conference in Utah. While there, I was able to spend a goodly amount of time with my fab sister Stephanie and my adorable grandmother. I also visited an amazing doctor who specializes in stress management. Amazing results: I haven't had a tension headache or muscle spasms in my shoulders since.

Blog learning curve issue: why won't the photos load where I want them? Must research this.

Wednesday
Dec202006

...the past three months? Part 2




Here's a photo of Marvin working on the renovation of our kitchen/living room. It was taken at the end of October; the job is 98% done as I write. Hurray! I have the house of my dreams. More on this later.

Can you believe I was still gathering roses the week of Thanksgiving? So far, it's been a remarkably mild fall-into-winter. I'm doing everything I can to avert global climate change, but there is a silver lining to every cloud....I have ten David Austin English Rose bushes at last count. This is an addiction I have no intention of overcoming. These roses are hardy, repeat blooming, and disease-resistant; the flowers are fragrant, long-lasting, and gorgeous. Here they are arranged with some late cinnamon basil.

Knitting, knitting, knitting. Tess's teacher requested that all the kindergartners come to school with hats; I made this one a couple of weeks ago from a great knitty pattern ("Coronet") out of luscious Malabrigo wool (Molly colourway). Of course, Hope had to have one next; her colourway is appropriately entitled "Verde Esperanza."

Of course, where there is knitting (for me, anyway), there is ripping out. I designed an aran sweater to be knit in the round using Elizabeth Zimmerman's brilliant guidelines in The Opinionated Knitter. I used the gorgeous wool Carmen and Shauna brought me back from Ireland--a creamy oatmeal tweed--soft, yet crunchy enough for good pattern definition. I knit happily away until I got to the underarms. I then realized that my blackberries were going to be bobbling in strategically bad places. Out the whole thing came. I'll edit my design and start it over once I've finished what's on the needles now: a cropped turtleneck pullover using chunky plum wool bought at La Droguerie in Paris years ago. Down, stash, down!