Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Capricious Crafter

Hey y'all...

Did you know that when I started my adult life in the southernmost part of the United States, I swore I would never say y'all?

It didn't last long, and now I am a proud, card-carrying member, of the Y'all speakers.

Sometimes I even go for the glory with an all y'all, but those are special, and must not be used too often.

But that's not what I came here to say...

What I really wanted to say, y'all, was that I am going to take a bloggers break for the rest of this week.

I'm workin' mighty-hard, (ok, the y'all's have got me typin' with a Texas twang) this week on a few projects.

The first is trying to figure out how to make a slightly larger, sweet four-year-old, version of the crochet hat I shared with you on Friday. I made one yesterday and it turned out too big.

The Girl appreciated my learning curve as she ran out for drama camp this morning...in her new flowered crochet cloche. So today I have been working on down sizing a bit.

The other project I've got going is Christmas stuff...yes, Christmas.

For several years I have made gifts for my nieces and nephews. As they get older and more sophisticated, its getting a little bit more challenging in some ways, and easier in others. But I am almost certain I have narrowed down the gifts for my nieces.  Here is a sneak peek at the might-be-the-christmas-gifts-for-nieces-work-in-progress...

Right now the flowers are just pinned on and I'm trying to decide if i want to add a few more rows to the trim... decisions, decisions.

I think I would do each hat in the girls fave color and do a mix of flowers.

Not sure what I'm doing for the nephews yet, but I am certain I am going to make this for The Boy because he has been asking me to let him have a mohawk for about a year.  I'm going to love laughing on Christmas morning when I tell him he can finally have his mohawk.

I will admit to you that I am a bit obsessed focused on these projects at the moment. And I have a tendency to forget all other things when in this mode....eating? cleaning? working out? what are those things?

I'm in the crochet zone.

Ah, the life of a capricious crafter.

Have a great week, y'all.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Friday Links: Get Creative

I didn't know how to play with yarn when I had babies.

So my kids didn't have cute little hats with big flowers.

Isn't that sad?

I'm pretty sure The Boy wouldn't have appreciated it anyway.

That sweet little hat is from this tutorial at Aesthetic Nest, and seriously y'all, the pattern is so quick and easy, I literally made this in less than two hours. If you crochet, go make this one and then find yourself a baby and spare that poor child of being left to live her whole life without a big flowered cap.

If you are hungry, you should try these watermelon cookies, Meredith baked up. I think I am going to assist The Girl in making a batch.

If you need a gift bag, but don't want to fork out the $$$, click here. All you need is some ribbon, glue and a newspaper.

I'm gonna go get my crafty (back) on in my newly organized office. Remember my crazy yarn mess? Well, The Mister bought me more yarn today (he is the most generous enabler I know...oh, and also, he's crazy handsome when he's helping me pick out just the right colors in the yarn isle...but I digress) so I felt motivated to clean up...so I can make more baby hats in clean-office peace.

What colors did I get? Glad you asked....

I got black, chocolate brown, cherry red, robins egg blue, blush (as in pink), a buttery light brown, and Kellyie green.  

Happy Friday!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Tough Job, But Someone Has To Do It

I can't type for too long, because (as you know) we are on a family stay-cation this week. This morning I have a tough schedule.

I promised The Mister we would be at the pool right when it opens so he might have a chance to swim laps.

I will probably lounge poolside until I feel "flushed" by this humid southern air.  I will then attempt to get into the water up to my shoulders, without getting my hair wet.

It's a futile process. My hair always gets mussed.

But its OK....because today I have a hairapy appointment.

Yes, its true. I've been seeing a hairapist every five weeks for many, many years.

And I'm better for it.

Just in case you think I've done NOTHING this week, here is proof of my labor...These flowers are actually all one peice...this week I learned how to triple crochet, in the round.

However, my creativeness is usually messy.

I need to get this menagerie (see how I made chaos sound artsy?) sorted before the weekend.

Oh, and I don't want to sound like I'm bragging, but....

Yesterday afternoon might have been the most perfect afternoon I have had in a long while (or you know, since last week).....

I had lunch with friends that included: an Avocado, Bacon, Cucumber sandwich, holding a sweet newborn for nearly an hour, and shipping at Target by myself. Later on The Mister took me to the Barnes and Noble where I sat sipping an iced Passion Tea, and reading books on how to make crochet flowers.

It all came full circle my friends.


All right. Gotta go suffer at the pool.

(big wink)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Friends, I am enjoying this week with my man, my kids, and my friends.

I've also been crocheting until late at night and nursing my bum knee, which is getting better (with a lighter training schedule) everyday.

Speaking of training, I had announced that I was thinking of a triathlon in the early fall. I think my body has told me this week that it isn't the season. So this is my official recant.

Maybe someday I will do something like that, and then again, maybe I won't. For now I am grateful to have a healthy body, in all it's many imperfections, that can enjoy the opportunities I have in this day.

This week has been very good, partly because I have been forced to slow down.

I truly am thankful.

I'd love to hear what you are thankful for....

Monday, July 19, 2010

Weekend Report

I know you are just dying to know how I spent my weekend....

So I'll tell you.

Actually, I'll just tell you the fun parts, because you probably folded five loads of laundry too. I won't bore you with the finer details.

On Friday night The Girl and I started cutting, gluing, and organizing the lapbooks she will be doing for school this year. There are four of them (one for each semester) and they come as stacks of paper (as seen in the top of the picture) and you cut, fold and paste to make what shown in the bottom of the picture.
(I swiped this photo from Homeschool Creations...Hello Jolanthe!)

I've learned that if I suggest watching a movie marathon she will work at just about anything (even folding towels!) It was TOTALLY worth watching all three High School Musicals (again) this weekend to have this project (and the laundry) knocked out. It took us about  an hour and 15 minutes/lapbook, but it would have taken much, much, longer had we done it alone. 

I also made these:

I have several friends having babies right now. I've have been wanting to try my hand at these burb-cloths for awhile...I think I'm hooked. These are great one-hour projects.

I also made some good progress in my winter afghan, putting on about 5 rows.

And I tried to make a crochet flower necklace using this recipe

Would you wear this? I liked it immediately when I saw it on the model. But when I put it on....I thought "It's cute, but I'd never wear it." I felt exactly how I do when I am trying on jeans... or bathing suits.

However, I'm not a huge accessories girl. I mean I like them, but I never actually wear them.

Do you know how hard it is to take a picture of your neck 
when a gully-washing, lightening-striking storm is overhead 
and your house is completely dark? 

And the piece de resistance of the weekend.....

Do you remember this?

About two months ago I used paint-stripper and elbow grease and perhaps a few expletives and got it cleaned up. Then The Mister sanded it and did a few repairs.

This weekend, The Girl and I slapped some primer on it, and then I started the painting process.

By Sunday afternoon it was ready for delivery and set-up.

I love the way it turned out. More importantly, The Girl loves it too.

So that is the very-long story (although I did spare details) of my weekend. 

Friday, July 16, 2010

School Marm

This is the scene this morning.

I've got my schoolmarm hat on and I am currently trying to get all the agenda's, maps, and weekly assignments into folders for the first nine weeks of school. Plus, I need to get my "brain" (aka, the binder that keeps me organized on a semester to semester basis) put together.

I was planning on doing some of this work this week and a lot more of it next week, but I made a slight miscalculation in my schedule.

Turns out that The Mister has the ENTIRE week off next week (LOVE that!) Which means I will not even want to think about homeschooling. Hanging out with him is one of my favorite things.

So, I'm cramming.

Its just as well.

I injured my (other) knee while running yesterday and I'm paying today for not listening to my PT's advice. Since I'm sitting here, icing bilateral (doesn't that make me sound smart) knees, I might as well work.

Since I'm short on time I gonna leave you with some links of other posts I enjoyed reading this week...but first, I have to mention the fun dinner I had last night.

I'll won't tell you about the margarita special or how I accidently walked into the men's bathroom....I'll just tell you that the company was wonderful and the food was fantastic. Oh and the entertainment was awesome!

Moving on....

The following Link is from a in-real-life friend of mine who recently moved to Belgium. I thought this post about the convenient packaging of beverages was interestingly humorous. It smacks of what could be a modern-day Anne of Green Gables Raspberry Cordial mistake in the making...one that I might make!

On a different note, I am gonna find a reason to make some of these cookies. I think they are so pretty.

I'm also planning on making one, or a dozen, of these (with added monogram) for some new girl-babies. Pictures to come.

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Divine Appointment I Nearly Missed

Last weekend I had a moment I couldn't have planned or prepared for.

I was at a large aquatic center and the place was buzzing with excited swimmers getting ready to compete in our Championship meet.

According to the Swim League website there were  over 1000 swimmers registered to compete. Just swimmers. Add a parent (or two) and you could say the place was crowded.

The competition had been in full swing for a couple of hours when The Girl told me she needed to use the restroom. I asked her to find a friend and go, after-all I was socializing with a couple of moms. But she was insistent that I take her.

 I (begrudgingly) did.

While I was there I decided I should go ahead and use the facility as well, and when I came out of the stall to wash my hands I noticed a gal about my age doing her best to stop crying.

Our eyes met.

I gently asked if she was OK.

She told me she was "just trying to get it together" and then added "its just that single-parenting is sometimes really hard."

Her tone wasn't whiny or full of pity, she was just stating a fact: Sometimes life is hard.

Before I knew what I was doing I walked over and threw my arms around her, which she readily accepted.

In that bustling bathroom I whispered short encouragements to her: Hang in there. You can do this.

We held each other tight and after a short time I let her go and walked out of the room into the masses of people.

I've been thinking and praying for her all week. Simply cannot get her, and those like her, off my mind.

I wish I had had the courage (or thought) to pray over her, right there in that bathroom...to encourage her in a more tangible way.

But I've been praying ever since...

Praying for those in my life who - be it by choice or circumstance - walk this arduous and beautiful road of parenthood all by themselves.

I'm praying that I would not underestimate being ready to encourage others with a Love that never fails, and that I would be ready in season and out. I pray that I wouldn't allow selfish desires to get in the way of moments and opportunities to comfort those in trouble with the comfort I've received.

Sometimes life is hard.

May I never be too busy, never be too blinded by the sights and sounds of life, or by things that clamor for my attention, to be an encouragement to those around me...Lord, may it be so.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Breaking Bread on this Excellent Day

I had this day filled with plans and purposes.

But nothing has gone according to schedule.

I couldn't be happier.

It started off with a bunny surprise.

When I left early this morning to meet my running friend, all in the home was well. The kids were snoozing and the dog barely looked up at me in that know you're not taking me out this morning look as I grabbed my keys and headed out.

I had a great run (although my knee hurt quite a bit) and I came home ready to get started with the day.

I hadn't yet made it to the door and I could here Kona the Wondermutt making funny sounds, whining and gruffling a little bit, but when I came to the door she quickly ran outside.

I made my way to the kitchen sink and grabbed a large glass of water. Imagine my surprise when I turned around and saw this hopping into my kitchen:

I knew nobody was awake, so I was trying to figure out how she got out of her cage. (She normally lives in the garage, but its been so hot we've allowed her in the family room for the summer.)

I scooped her up and walked to the family room where I found this:

So much for Italian Bunny Condo's found cheap. The bottom, literally, fell out.

I know that when I left that morning the cage was intact, but I'm uncertain how long she was roaming the house.

I cannot tell you how glad I am that Kona the Wonder Mutt did not eat Penny.

What a disaster that would have been.

The Boy and I jerry-rigged the cage to keep Penny safe, but when The Mister comes home he's gonna see what he can do to ensure the pets, at best, won't run-amuck....  or at worse: to keep our bunny from ever becoming dog-food while we are out of the house.

Since the morning was overcast the kids weren't too excited to go to the pool, so we opted to stay home. I went out and picked veggies and then I've been working on homeschooling stuff and listening to a book on CD...and icing my knee.

Gettin' old ain't for sissies.

I also decided that our impromptu stay at home lent itself to making bread.

I cannot tell you why I adore making yeasty breads and doughs, but I do...

I love the time it takes. I love the smell. I love the way dough feels...and truth be told, I love that impatient feeling of anticipation that happens...the goodness you hope for behind the door of the oven.

Making bread makes me (and others) happy...if even for a moment.

So I started with a banana bread, to keep the instant-gratification natives quiet. And while it was baking I started what was to be two big loaves of cinnamon bread.

In a flash of clear vision I decided to try something completely off recipe for one of the loaves - instead of cinnamon, I spread Nutella all over the top and quickly rolled it up, as if my secret might be found.

In the words of the Mr and Mrs. Carpoolqueen It did not suck.

So that is what's happening at the LaVida House on this fine, wonderful, bready day.

What are YOU up to?

Monday, July 12, 2010

A Walk in the Garden: Tomato Talk

When I started the garden in late February, I had high hopes for a fruitful harvest.

Of course I didn't really take into account what I would do with all those veggies.

I figured I would eat some and give-away more.

What I didn't count on was the fact that many, many people in my community also garden as a hobby. Some even garden for profit or to stock their own pantries for the coming year.

Tomatoes seem to love North Carolina so we all have them in abundance.

I realized this week that not only am I getting a tad tired of tomatoes (and cucumbers), those I was pushing veggies on were getting their fill too. People were starting to divert their eyes when I approached with my veggie box, I needed to figure out what to do with my tomatoes.

One of the gals at the pool, who also happens to be my local honey source (she's a beekeeper) suggested I could dry my tomatoes in the oven to use for snacks, sauces, and other recipes.

(Just had to throw in a pic of the the honey I bought.  It's as beautiful as it is delicious.)

She said she oven-dried her tomatoes overnight because it takes a good chunk of time, but that it was an easy process.

She was right.

Here is what I did: (ignore the chunks of this weeks watermelon...you know how i love h2o melon, but its probably not good dried)

I cut the Roma's in half and the Beefsteak in quarters.

I pushed the seeds out with my fingers, laid them skin side down on an ungreased cookie sheet, an sprinkled them with salt. Next time I am going to try to sprinkle basil on them too.

I turned the oven on to 170.

And went to bed.

This morning the smaller pieces were done,but the larger were still a bit moist and thick.

So I put flipped the undercooked ones over and put them back in the oven. I'll pull them out when they look right.

The others I have cooling and will store in a Ziploc bag.

Then I went out to the garden to water and weed....

...and found more tomatoes.

And more tomatoes....

And the beginnings of more tomatoes....

Any one got a good recipe?

Friday, July 09, 2010

How I Broke (and Fixed) My Kitchen Aid Mixer

The apple doesn't fall too far from the tree.

As a youngster my dad would occasionally do things with good intentions that didn't work out so well.

My mom called them "wild hares," and while most time these things were perfectly good and productive, occasionally they ended in trouble.

For instance, one time in early summer he decided that he was going to rearrange his bedroom. Being the mid-80's he and my mom had a king-sized waterbed.

He spent the morning draining and dismantling the bed. Then he hauled all the furniture into different spots and cleaned the room 'til it shined like the top of the Chrysler building. Then he put the water bed back together in its new spot.

I remember it like yesterday...that green water-hose being snaked through the large, east-facing picture window. I remember the sound of whooshing water as it filled the big blue mattress.

The day passed quickly and soon it was time to take my brothers to the ball park. Being baseball season, I spent a lot of time there. I liked it. My dad would hand me a couple of bucks and I would spend the whole evening hanging out with the sisters, running back and forth in my dusty flip-flops to the snack bar for Fun-Dip and Big League Chew.

I can remember the moment when I looked up and there was Bob, our neighbor. He was gathering us up and said that my Dad had told him to come get us.


Well, my dad got caught up in watching the boys play and forgot that he was filling up that king-sized mattress back home.

He made a mad-dash home, getting there just on time to see the bulging-bed split, creating a deluge bigger than Southern Arizona had seen in a long while.

I am so glad that we didn't have internet back then, because a bed that size (when filled to capacity) holds 248.7 gallons of water...and this one was WAY over capacity.

Of course my dad wouldn't have needed the internet, he could've probably guessed, since the water went under the walls and seeped into both my brother's room and the formal living room, rendering three rooms and the hallway flooded.

His one day project to make things better ended up in a long weekend of wet-vac rental and borrowing every box fan we could find within a 30 mile radius.

I'm sure by now you are wondering what in the world this has to do with my Kitchen Aid mixer?

Well its my defense sweet friends: I am becoming my father. (Which endears me to him all the more.)

Yesterday I was giving my kitchen a good, deep, cleaning, and it occurred to me that my beloved Kitchen Aid mixer hadn't been deeply cleaned, ever. I mean I've wiped down the outside many, many times, but its been sounding a little tired lately (I use it almost daily) and I figured it needed some love.

So I began by dismantling the two big dots on the outside of the main casing.

These things have springs on them. And rectangular looking metal pieces with one corner cut off.

Then I removed a few more screws but couldn't get the thing to come apart. Not wanting to ruin my machine I gave up and put it all back together.

I plugged it in and turned it on to make sure all was well.

It wasn't.

No power at all.


So I panicked.

And ran to the internet.

I found that those big dots with loaded springs and weird shaped metal thing-a-ma-bobs (or "'brush" as the net calls them)  actually have to go in a certain way....

You have to take a flash light and look inside the hole...

 and in the back you can see something that looks like this:

Then you have to make sure that the missing corner of the metal "brush" is facing the circle of the diagram above.

Then you cross your finger, because I tend to make mistakes that are expensive this was (long ago) a gift from The Mister and I'm afraid to tell him I've damaged a perfectly good machine.


It worked.

So, the apple doesn't fall too far from the tree...but this time, I got to make an apple pie. Next time, and there will be a next time, I might not be as lucky...

Thursday, July 08, 2010

The View From My Umbrella

The heat is on my friends.

We are trying to keep cool by the pool as much as possible.

We are wrapping a full week with an all day swimming championship in Cary, NC on Saturday.

I love the swim season, but it will be nice to not have to be at the pool so early each morning. We are all starting to wear out.

Next week I hope to use an early morning (or two) to go pick blackberries and blueberries.

I also hope to find my cooking mojo again. I love to be in the kitchen but somehow I lost that loving feeling about 6 (or 9) months ago.

Yesterday I made a delicious dinner: Roasted Corn and Tomato tarts with fresh salad. The tomatoes and cucumbers were from my own garden....which was satisfying. As I was preparing dinner I remembered why I love being in my kitchen. I'm ready to spend some time in there in again.

All right....it's time to move from under the umbrella to the water. I hope y'all are staying cool!
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

A Quiet Moment of Clarity

I've just returned from a lovely outing with the Carpoolqueen and her Trio.

We spent several hours swimming, dining on pizza, and doing our best to catch up after her whirlwind trip to the wild west and back.

Due to the unspoken bloggers courtesy regarding photos in bathing suits, there won't be any poolside pictures. You can take my word for it, we had a blast.

What I love about being at the pool all morning is that when I bring my kids home they go into auto-pilot. Without prompting they each find a shower and when they are warm and clean, they'll find prospective corners of the house to be quiet.

That is the wonderful part about this stage in parenting, you don't have to worry (as much) about the quiet times...you can actually enjoy them.

All this quiet has led me to some pondering...

Currently, my dilemma is wether or not to make the long drive to Chapel Hill this afternoon to purchase yarn.

I started an afghan on a whim this weekend, without pattern or plan, and it turns out the three little balls of yarn I had on hand are not enough. Since the posting of this picture the blanket is now about 20x20 inches, so I'm committed...and out of brown yarn.

I could wait to go to the store until I have other things I need at that end of town, but my crochet-driven impulse may win out.

Does this ever happen to you? Do you ever get fixated, out of the blue, in a fit of creativity, on one thing even when there may be 10 other projects you could tend to?

My husband recently said in a I'm-saying-this-as-a-joke-but-it-smacks-of-reality kind of way, "Kellie, you're so compulsive." Which is a nice way of saying, you get your mind set on something and you can't leave it alone.

I beg to differ.

I call it passionate dedication.

There is just something comforting about the compulsiveness repetitiveness of double-crochet, double-crochet, double-crochet, single-chain, single-chaindouble-crochet, double-crochet, double-crochet, single-chain, single-chain, over, and over, and over again.

The process is comforting. It takes almost no effort, and magically that little repetitive motion turns a bit of yarn into a pattern...

A comforting, warm, colorful, pattern of passionate dedication.

Craft store....here I come.

Monday, July 05, 2010

A Creamiscle Miracle...and other fine things

Happy July 4th!

(on the July 5th)

Today we are celebrating one of those wonderful days that really calls for gratitude: Government Holidays.

The Mister is home and we have a tradition on days like today. We have a breakfast feast.

As soon as I finish typing this post we will dine on biscuits, eggs, and fruit (fresh pineapple, cherries, and watermelon).

After breakfast we plan to go on a hike to the river.

We've already had a great weekend which involved a little bit of work, and a little bit of fun. Which is always the best way to have a weekend.

The Girl and I watched a Hannah Montana Marathon while we slipped 500 sheets of paper curriculum into protective sleeves.

We aren't finished yet. We still have one and a half units left to "protect" but I ran out of sheet protectors.

Then we moved to the filing system. This is is new for me this year.  (Actually I've switched
entire curriculum this year) I have always filed their finished work, but never by the week. So we dutifully got an entire school-year filing system readied.

Then we went and had pedicures.

I also started another afghan while we watched movies each night.

I'm gonna keep this one.

I think.

This weekend couldn't have been better.

But it was.

After getting my toenails painted I quickly ran to the grocery store to pick up a few things for our cook-out....I decided to take one look in the ice cream isle, although I knew my Creamsicle search was in vain at this store.

Imagine my surprise when I saw a big yellow sticker that said "NEW ITEM! Dean's Orange Cream Bars":

And in my excitement I went all loco en la cabeza and bought ice cream sandwiches too.

It is a holiday you know.

For the record, these orange cream bars are better than the ones I was looking for, because they are orange sherbet not orange popsicle...Mmmmm......

I think it may have to be added to the breakfast feast menu.

Thursday, July 01, 2010


Last weekend we took a little road trip to Williamsburg, Virginia.

One of the exciting parts was taking the ferry across the James River.

My kids had never been on a ferry.

If you haven't been to Williamsburg, its a living history extravaganza.

Volunteers are given a part to play and they very rarely came out of character. Their knowledge of the time period was amazing.

Speaking of history...

The kids and I went to see Toy Story 3 yesterday...and if you happened to have a pre-school/toddler boy-child when the first movies came out a decade ago...bring your tissues.

I'd been reading tweets and blogs that mom's across the nation were crying into their Milk Duds by the end of the film.

I took heed to the warning, but I kind of wondered why?

Well, as the plot goes the toys are owned and loved by Andy, but he is 17 now and headed to college.

The Toys have had their day.

The bloggers were right, I did get misty...

Why? Well, my son, The Boy, who will be thirteen years old in 89 days (not that I'm counting or anything) had that green dinosaur with the missing tooth, who always seemed to be on the floor and under my foot. He carried his hard-plastic Buzz Lightyear, with his retractable wings and noisy beeps and whistles, with him everywhere. For two years Buzz traveled with us to restaurants, church, the zoo. 

To infinity and beyond, really.

Old Buzz was buckled into seat belts, and left on the counter of the bathroom while The Boy took a bath. 

He was a big part of that little boys life. 

As a result, he was a big part of mine. 

That was eight or nine years ago. It feels like yesterday.

The movie reminded me of a special time in The Boy's life, when everything was about imagination and exploration and wonder...a time of chubby fingers and clumsy steps.

I loved that stage.

And I love this stage.

But they are very, very different. Both wonderful, not really comparable.

So why does the movie make this mama cry?

Because its family history...The Boy, Buzz Lightyear, and me...