Sunday, May 31, 2009

Down to Business

I have to get some things finished around here.  So, instead of deep blog ponderings, I'll do a practical mom thing and make a list.  This one will be on the blog because I don't have a crumpled napkin handy and I'm not all that deep.

To Do:

There's the above baby blanket - niece coming in August,
a grave marker for our sweet cat that died this month,
I gotta make some more soap to sell ( I'm thinking pure castille), 
write out piano lesson plans for the kids this summer, 
get my level 2 certifcation, 
start The Hobbit with the kids, 
plant that orange tree, 
make the patio, 
and make some bread.  

Today, I'm going to knock out some of that blanket.  

Hope Deferred



 I love everything about backyards: hammocks, kids, dogs, cats, neighbors, grills, grass underfoot, moon and stars at dusk, charcoal, flowers, bubbles, water, rock collections, sand, picnics, lemonade, hide and seek, flip-flops, tanning, straw hats, and reading on Sundays.  These are wholesome, simple pleasures and I live a pretty simple life.  
         But somehow in our different moves or in an effort to be wise on one income so that I can stay at home, we've neglected a long desired dream of mine:  A moss-covered patio with hammocks and an arbor shading it overhead.  This was okay with me for a long time.  I don't have to have everything.  And a lot of things just don't matter that much to us.  But, it's time.   So now, 8 years and three moves later, it is starting to take shape.  My plan was to go with inexpensive and re-purposed.  
        I have collected a lot of flat, broken concrete pieces from new building sites around town to form our path and patio.  Set a bit apart, like flagstones, for moss to grow between.  The arbor will be made of cypress logs from a nearby sawmill as support posts and painted pine for the arbor itself.  The bougainvilla have been waiting patiently with me all these 8 years for a permanent home in the ground and something to meander up.   When we get back from my next yoga certification trip, we'll get busy.  

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

I VANT Tomatoes!

       I have much to learn about gardening.  I was disappointed at first when things sprouted, then lingered or disappeared.  When you're working in a small space on a microscopic budget you shouldn't expect too much at first.  I think I planted everything on time, but I started from seed and haven't done that before. In fact, no one I know does that.  I think I under-watered this year, as opposed to over-watering last year in my first gardening foray(Aaaahh!)  So we're just now getting little tomatoes on our mini vines.
      But the good news is that this was an experimental garden and, in that respect, it was a success.  I've learned what things I can grow easily from seed in my area (corn, basil, borage, peas, lettuces, carrots, spinach, cucumber, thyme,rosemary) and what doesn't (tomatoes, eggplant, lavender, peppers, chamomile, to name a few.)  Plus it's fun to watch corn grow, even if its, like, two ears per stalk.  I can make several salads off of what I have in my garden at this moment- that's cool.  
        So, you see, I have traded in phrases like: expect, disappointed, and getting for the zen-like expressions: experimental, learned, fun to watch. 
        But really I just VANT tomatoes!  Next year I'm planting a big, honkin garden in the side yard.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Still Life


That's what I need every day- a little bit of still life. No screens, no requests, no complaints, no lists, no dishes, no self-motivation, just a quiet rhythmical motion. Maybe of my hands knitting in the backyard while the kids play in the tree. Or rolling on the floor with the dogs. I may pick out songs that don't exist on the piano or just the sway in the hammock chair for a couple of minutes.
My mother took a nap almost every day. Afterward, she read some a historical novel at the kitchen bar while eating a sandwich. My grandmother napped too and finished the ritual each afternoon with hot tea - still does. Sometimes when I'm there, we both lay down on the floor (for our backs) with our feet propped up on furniture and talk 'til we fall asleep in their quiet house.
If I put off "just being", I won't be able to settle down at bedtime and will find myself wide-eyed after midnight, feeling like something is missing; pacing on the inside. So yesterday we talked together and walked the dogs as a family in the late afternoon. I knitted on a blanket and practiced piano while my husband read to the kids. Then, later, I talked to my Grandmommy on the phone. A good day.

"In returning and rest, you shall be saved. In quietness
and confidence shall be your strength." Isaiah 30:15

Friday, May 22, 2009

Soap Queen, I Think Not

  A friend called me a "regular soap queen" yesterday.  Not really, she's the one who taught me how and has been doing it for a long time.  But I'm just trying different recipes each week, amassing a collection worth selling for some fun money. 
 They're all on top of my fridge right now, excluding the loaf of calendula soap.  I don't know if that's best because the smell of the essential oils seems to be dissipating, but we aren't set up for full time soap factory here in our tiny little antique house.  There's green tea/ lemongrass/ eucalyptus on the left (they're kind of funky-shaped) and plain castille, green tea/lemongrass, and rosemary exfoliating on the right.   Can't wait for them to cure because I'm still using Ivory.         

Thursday, May 21, 2009

He loves me not...





Tried adding dried calendula to my castille soap Wednesday.  (I have to reap something from this garden!)  So, while having coffee with my sister, I pried off petals, separating seed.  My daughter wandered in to help too.  She is now at an age where she likes adult conversation and wants to listen (especially me and my sister's), even if she doesn't always contribute.  Sis thought I was being a little AR about leaving out any brown petals, but I was just zoning out as we talked. I felt like a little kid, fascinated by how many seeds were tucked into one flower and how serious they looked hanging off a petal.  Quill- like.  I read that calendula is one of the only flowers to retain it's color during cold process soap making, so here is my final result.  There's still some gold color there, but I think it will turn brown as it cures.   This, borage, rosemary, and maybe lavender are the only herbs I planted for soaps that have actually sprouted in the garden.  They just aren't taking off like I'd hoped.  I planted hyssop and chamomile too, but never saw a peep of them.  

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Time's A Wastin'




I let my little cilantro plants bolt to seed to see if I could harvest it as coriander.  I may have waited too late to collect them because they were very brown, but they smell like what I have bought in the store, so we'll see.  I put the stems with the coriander in an old flour bag with the top folded down in a dark corner by the pantry.  I may be doing this all wrong since I approach research with an ADD- ish attitude:  read two sentences, move on.  But that is only because I'm trying so many new things at once.  Just today, before kids are home from school, I need to make laundry soap,  make a true castille soap (which I've never done), finish that book I've been reading for a few months now, learn how to work the photo program better on our new computer, design a new yoga lesson,  dry some flowers for soaps, practice piano, work out, and try a new bread recipe.  Or I can just play with this sad little blog and google stuff.    

Monday, May 18, 2009

Nunya Bees...



     Yesterday was my first day to really handle the bees.  It was late in the day, which I heard was a no-no, but I was tired and wanted the supers added to the hive.





So, I donned the veil, pried off the top, set the super on the body, and replaced the top. That was all.  No fanfare or swarming.  I think I squashed a couple though with the super- sniff, sniff.






Saturday, May 16, 2009

Something New Every Week


So, I'm trying to learn something new at least every week.  This week it was fixing sushi.  Even if it was a tex-mex sushi roll (spicy cooked shrimp, avacado, lime juice) it counts because it had rice wine vinegar, sticky rice, and nori.   The kids even ate a bit dipped in salsa.  Note- I need to make rice one day ahead next time.    

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Clown Car Garden






I get too ambitious sometimes.  This was my first spring garden to start on time, so with a small space and lack of old-timers

 wisdom, I had to  plant a little of everything.  It is truly a little vw clown car with guys of all shapes and sizes crammed in.  My only question is how will they all  survive in there?

  

Friday, May 8, 2009

Blogging Day 1 and I Really Just Want to Nap

I don't like writing grand statements of purpose.  Can I just not?  This is the place where I keep track of projects tried, lessons learned, and images I want to remember.  That's all.


I didn't even mean to start a blog it just happened after signing onto Ravelry.
I think Ravelry is stealing my youth. I joined for advice on a sweater. Then I had to peek at what other knitters were working on. Just a bit, because I'm not into sitting behind a screen- yeah, right. So, many late nights later, I've uploaded photos to Flickr for the first time, listed my knitting projects, queued a ton of things, and started a blog. 


My daughter says we live a handmade life. I guess so. Though by no means self-sustaining, we are pretty  basic.  I've always liked to learn how to make things and do things for myself.  Now that my children are getting older, I'm indulging in these creative pursuits.  So I find myself trying all sorts of experiments from the practical to the personal to the pointless as I try to piece together a beautiful life.  Sometimes things fail; sometimes I flake out, but no one other than my grandmother is reading this anyway, so why not keep a journal- lite online?


When I'm not piecing together that beautiful life, I'm looking sinister with my dog in a choke hold.

 Now I'm the "fresh," new face of blogging.  At least I appear fresh here, because my kids will be getting the faded and droopy me after school today.