Friday, July 30, 2010

Some Knitting

I finished this shawlette and I have to say I am quite happy with it. It's kind of like a triangular scarf which could come in handy now that our summer is over (?!) and the temperature is supposed to drop into the 40's tonight.
 Mike kept asking, "Are you still knitting that?  I've never seen you take so long to finish something."  I don't think that is really true.  It did take me a while to figure out how to read the chart that was part of the instructions.  It's the directionality thing.  I ended up going to the shop where I bought the yarn (which is a fine merino wool from Italy and I love the color) and someone there walked my through the first repetition of the pattern and then I was good to go.  I'm convinced that pattern charts are upside down and backwards so I always have a hard time with them.  Maybe it's my brain that is upside down and backwards, though.

Some patterns are strangely specific.  I was looking a pattern yesterday that specified "one red marker, one green marker, and one of another color."  Now, I had just not seen that before.  Is there significance to the color marker used?  I'd rejected the pattern before I read through the whole thing.  Maybe it's like in boating--"right on red, returning"--another concept that eludes me entirely.  If I'm just starting out, do I go to the left?  It really is a wonder I can find my way out of bed in the morning.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Watch This Trick

No, Silly, I wasn't blogging while camping.  I waited until we got back.  There is no connection that far out in the wilderness, anyway.
We saw the moose on a previous trip, a few years ago, but I am playing around now.  I've never uploaded a video before so I'm trying something new--just like it says to in my horoscope.  It's not much of a video...the only action being me shaking the camera for a couple of seconds.  It's an experiment, that's all.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Camping Trip #3

Peaceful morning
We brought the comfy chairs this time. (But no hair products, not even a comb apparently)

If camping was an Olympic event, these past few days would score a perfect ten. If you could order camping weather from a catalog, this trip would have been the super deluxe, really expensive package. We had a very peaceful, relaxing time just enjoying the fresh mountain air, the quiet, the good food, some time together, sipping some nice wine and watching the full moon rise over the water. Excellent.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Easy Living, Summertime

What says summer more than a supper of corn on the cob--just picked fresh--and blueberry pie? Not major health food, but my taste buds are happy.
The canoe is loaded except for the cooler, which will get packed up first thing in the morning. We'll make an early start hoping to avoid the predicted north winds--nothing worse than paddling a fully loaded canoe into the wind.
I have not finished the story I am working on for my writing group meeting next week. I usually don't like missing these "deadlines" but I find myself not stressing about it. It will get done and people will have time to read it before the next get together.
I finished the shawlette that I've been working on and I am quite pleased with the results. Perhaps I'll model it at some point in the near future.
When we get back from camping, I think I will be about ready for another grandchildren fix. Gosh, the summer is going by so fast!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Summer Thoughts

I thought I was free of the self destruct mode, but...Today I slammed my left foot in the front door, scraping my instep and making a bloody mess of my heel. However, I found it immensely amusing and I've been giggling about it all day. Now, I'm manic. Mike is threatening to outfit me with a hockey goalie's uniform--minus the skates.
We are going camping on Monday so I spent the day preparing some meals for that. I remembered that we had a fan in the basement so I dragged that up to the kitchen and it really helped since I had the oven on and our air conditioner is only in the bedroom. Mike got out all the equipment and started some of the packing. It takes a certain amount of work to relax so completely for a couple of days.
We sat out on the deck tonight for supper and watched the sun go down. Mike grilled tuna and I roasted potatoes in oil and herbs from my garden and made green beans in a lemon-butter sauce. The green beans were the first from my garden. It was really a yummy supper. I also made a blueberry pie, but we were too full to have dessert. We really have cut back on the portion sizes, but we still eat well--still eat the things we enjoy. Mike is not really into my vegetable preference, but it all works out somehow.
Tomorrow will be a big celebration. The farm where we buy our sweet corn will be open for business. Corn on the cob is the one thing we absolutely only eat local and in season so it's a big deal.

Friday, July 23, 2010

From my e-mail:

Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways - Chardonnay in one hand - chocolate in the other - body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming "WOO-HOO, what a ride!!"

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Bandaids and Prozac

I am in full on self-destruct mode lately. I don't remember pinching my finger, but somehow I did and it was unbelievably painful for a while. Yesterday I was cutting the sucker branches off the tomatoes. Since I neglected to put on my garden gloves before starting this task, my fingers were quite green--green enough so that I mistook my ring finger for a branch and hacked at it with the garden shears. This morning was spent scrubbing out the insides of the kitchen cupboards. I wasn't quite finished when I dropped a bowl and it shattered. I managed to immediately slice into the same left thumb, and then step on a sliver of glass that is now stuck painfully in my heel. I've gone through these cycles often enough. When I start covering myself with scrapes, bumps, bruises, and cuts, I know a depressed mood is on the way. Fortunately, I've also done this often enough to get on the meds and stop it in a timely fashion.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Party, Party

On Sunday I went with a friend to a "Stampin' Up!" party. Remember Tupperware parties?

This was more fun because we got to make two cards to take home instead of playing silly games.

Ginnie and I were the only two there who were not totally immersed in the world of all things Stampin' Up. I mean, we knew about stamps and paper punches and the joys of fancy papers; we are both kind of artsy-craftsy types. We just were not fully prepared for the consuming world of the dedicated stamper, complete with its unique vocabulary.

"Good-bye Chocolate Chip! I'm all about the Early Espresso now!"
(very similar browns)
"Hand me that clam shell, please." (glue)
"This embossing folder changed my life!!"
"Oh, goodie! We're doing a top note."

Like I said, it was fun to make the cards, but of course the intent of such parties is to sell things. There was no pressure here at all, but if we had to purchase everything we used to make those two cards each, it would go like this:

Die Cutting machine, 100.00
Cutting Pad, 20.00
Embossing folders, 16.00
Top Note Die, 22.00
Stamp Pads. 40.00
Punches. 55.00
Plus papers, assorted adhesives, coordinating ribbon, jewel embellishments, and small tools.
That's a lot of cards to make that pay. We'd have to open an Etsy store or something.

Incidentally, the friend who hosted the party has a craft space in the attic of her house that I covet to a sinful level. I wanted to take a picture to show Mike and tease him about starting a new project around the house, but my camera was not working.

So, as it turned out, there were actually two parties going on. While the demonstrator and crafters were doing their thing, there was a dog party going on. For this, I really wish my camera had been more cooperative. Ginnie has a new Jack Russell terrier, Ollie, that she brought along to socialize with other dogs. There were two toy poodles--host Donna's Mocha and another guest's whose name I've forgotten. Mocha wears a diaper because he never learned to not piddle on the floor. He was the dominant male, owning the house and all, who took a while to warm up to a puppy. The little black poodle had on a pink halter and a pink bow in her head. She circled around the puppy playing the protective mother role. And Ollie, being a very young puppy, was just adorable, learning to play well with others.
Somehow yesterday I bruised my thumb. There is a big purplish contusion on the thumb pad and it really hurts. I 'll be doing no kinds of crafting today, so i guess I'll leaf through the Stampin' Up catalog.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Summer Visitors

Mike's daughter, grand daughter, and three grand sons were here for a visit from South Carolina. The plan to have the boys stay here for a week was cut back since my step daughter will try to come up again next year for her high school reunion and the boys will stay with us then. She also wanted to have a good visit with her mom since she will be moving into a much smaller place in a 55+ community and probably won't be able to accommodate a family of six for an extended visit by next year. The southerners were not that impressed with our "heat wave." It was good to have them here. I think they had fun. Mike took them out to target shoot and I fed them.
Then back to work:
There always comes a time, usually right in the middle of July, when the garden just seems to run away from me. I go along thinking that I'm keeping up with the feeding, weeding, watering, pruning, edging, daily inspections for trouble on the rise. I start thinking, "You know, I really have this garden thing under control now." Then BAM! I don't understand how it happens. Weeds I would swear were not in sight yesterday are two feet high. Potted plants are brown and crispy around the edges. Their little plant tongues are hanging out and they really turn into drama queens about my failure to water then in a timely fashion. Some buggy thing has chewed up the basil in the herb garden, but not in the vegetable garden. Perennials that were beautiful three days ago all of a sudden need major haircuts. Daisies are flopping over onto the lawn. Baby vegetables clamor for care while staying resolutely green and immature. I believe I'll take another trip to the farm market.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Food Thoughts

A dentist visit yesterday, for the replacement of an old filling, no big deal. My fillings are all very old and starting to crack. We made a plan to replace them slowly over the next few years--with luck the job will be done before any major problems arise. I would so hate to have a career that involved having my hands in other peoples' mouths all day, but I'm glad that there are people willing to do it.
Today I went into town again and picked my son up for a sushi lunch. I confess to being completely inept when it comes to chopsticks. I just cannot get the hang of them at all. I eat sushi with my fingers. Is that so wrong?
It was a major bold step for me to ever try sushi in the first place, and as it is, I have only ever tried vegan sushi. I was reading the June O magazine (at the dentist's office) and there was an article about food aversions. The author was dismayed that her husband refused to ever try beef tongue and then she mentioned a woman who trained herself to eat foods served in China--like goose intestines, bee larvae, scorpions, and tendons from a cow's throat.
I never really considered myself a very picky eater, but after reading that I'll have to say that I really am pretty picky. I'd say Mike is worse, but he really isn't--we just don't happen to like all the same things. One thing, though, after reading that article, I told him I would never ask him to "just taste it" again.
His reply..."Good!!"

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Another Herb Drying Method

I happened upon this tip at the library yesterday. It is from Cooking with Herbs: 100 Seasonal Recipes and Seasonal Mixtures to Spice Up Any Meal by Tina James. It is for herbs that have a high water content, like basil or parsley. Wash the herbs and allow to thoroughly dry. Place several stems in a single layer in an unopened paper bag and tape this to the side of a frost-free freezer. In a week, the herbs are dried because the defrosting function removes the moisture from the herbs as well as from the fridge. The cold temperature also is said to preserve more flavor.
Who knew?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Drying Herbs

For those who wanted more information about drying herbs, here is a helpful article.

Also, last year I stuffed parsley into ice cube trays and then filled with water. When frozen, I popped the cubes out and stored them in a freezer bag. I could then toss a cube or two into soups and sauces through the fall.

I usually fill ice cube trays with basil pesto and store those cubes in freezer bags as well. That way you can use a little and not have to hassle with chipping a chunk out of a larger container.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Sun Smiles Down

A woman from Milton, Vermont took this picture over the weekend and it was published in the Burlington Free Press. It's amazing that someone would actually have a camera at the ready for an opportunity like this.
A sudden and completely uncharacteristic burst of energy hit me this morning. By ten a.m., I had my two cups of coffee, finished the crossword and sudoku puzzles, washed up the breakfast mugs and coffee pot, taken a walk and pruned two lilac bushes. It is supposed to get up into the 90's again today--it's been about seven years since we've had a nice hot summer like this here--so I won't feel the least bit guilty about sitting with my book and a pitcher of lemonade this afternoon.
I've been experimenting with drying herbs from my garden. I put some mint and some Greek oregano in the microwave. It dried them out fine. Time will tell if the flavor lasts through this process, but the kitchen smells nice.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Circus

The trip to Circus Smirkus was a hit. I had cooled down on Friday--with the temperature falling below the 90's mark into the ever so much more refreshing high 80's. I bought tickets for the evening performance hoping it would be cooler then, but no such luck. It didn't matter. The kids had a great time and really enjoyed the show. I enjoyed it as well, although I had a hard time deciding between watching the ring and watching the kids' faces. It was a true grandma experience, making me feel like that antique little girl.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Southern Writers

After saying how much I like southern writers, I picked up "The New York Times BESTSELLING AUTHOR DOROTHEA BENTON FRANK Lowcountry Summer" but before I was fifty pages into it, I realized I would rather be watching "The Real Housewives of Atlanta" and the "Real Housewives" of anywhere is a show that my I put a V-chip on. Fortunately, I also picked up a copy of Her Fearful Symmetry (Audrey Niffenegger) and that is holding my interest.

Mike and I went out to a restaurant on the lake last night. This is a place where we usually watch all the activity on the nearby bike path, the ferry dock, and the boat marina, but nothing was going on last night. I can't believe it was too hot to even take out your sailboat if you are fortunate enough to own one, but it must have been. We people watched the two couples at tables on either side of us instead.
The first couple came in and sat down while apparently finishing up an argument they'd been engaged in. He spent the entire meal sighing loudly and rolling his eyes from time to time. She never once took her thumbs or her eyes of the texting she was doing on her phone--except for a couple of times when the phone rang and she talked to whomever was calling. That looked like a fun time.
The second couple were older and were the demanding type starting from the moment they walked in and did not want to sit at the table for two they were given and wanted a table set up for six instead right on through wondering why they could not have this or that not on the menu. They kept the waitress hopping and probably left her a dollar tip. At least they weren't loud about it.
Several years ago we were visiting the Outer Banks in North Carolina. We had supper one night at a seafood restaurant that was right at water's edge just past the fishing wharf. There was a demanding couple there. The deal with the restaurant was that they served local fish, fresh from the fishing boats each afternoon. This particular couple were outraged that they couldn't order a Maine lobster and they were quite loud and obnoxious about it as well. There was no Red Lobster restaurant in the area, so I guess they made do.
They say it takes all kinds, but surely there are some kinds we could do without?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Sweeping Up Glass

I have to say that I have never yet read a growing-up-in-the-South novel that I haven't really enjoyed, and so it was with Sweeping Up Glass by Carolyn Wall. I also have to say that I have never finished a growing-up-in-the-South novel that in any way makes me wish I had actually come of age in the South anytime in recent history. Even so, it does seem to provide a depth of experience that is fodder for many talented and/or popular writers.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Hot and Steamy

Hot and steamy--that's the weather forecast for the next few days. The trick is to move slowly through the daily tasks, but I have a hard time remembering to do that. I do love this time of year, though.
Iced tea, real brewed tea, tastes so good on days like this. I pour mine into a frosted glass from the freezer and add a touch of lemon and sweetener. I was drinking iced tea all day yesterday, then remembered at bedtime about caffeine. Between staying up late and having to get up early for a trip to the bathroom, I certainly didn't get in my usual eight hours of sleep. I did however, finish up sewing projects--a top for Kristen, pj's and a robe for Dane.

I plan a trip to take the kids to see Circus Smirkus on Friday. Sitting in a circus tent with the weather like this...hmm. We'll see how that goes. It could be cool again by then. Kristen has been at day camp, but Dane is ready for some vacation time with Grandma. Momma and Dad are ready for a kid break, too, I think.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Boomy Lights

Friday, we headed out very early to go camping. The place where we like to go is not an organized camp ground. There are a limited number of primitive camp sights on the pond and it is first-come-first-serve. We knew that, being a holiday weekend, it was likely to be more used that it would ordinarily.

Since we have retired, we really try to make out camping trips mid week. It's less "crowded" for us and we are not taking a space from people who only have the weekends off. This time, though, July 4th weekend happened to be the first time in five or six weeks where the weather reports were predicting three nice days in a row. We decided to take the chance.

We didn't get the camp site we like the most, but we did find a new site across the pond. It worked out nicely. We pitched the tent near the water's edge. The weather turned much warmer and, since out camp faced to the west, we had lots of afternoon sunshine and a great view of the setting sun. With the lingering daylight of a northern summer, we sat out under the stars sipping wine and talking. It was just a quiet and relaxing time.

The best part--NO BUGS. That has never happened before. We did not even take the insect repellent out of the bag the whole time we were there. Honestly, I don't know where they went, but I did not miss them one bit.

We got home in time to have supper and then drive back down the hill to the next town. Richmond has a big annual Fourth celebration that ends with quite a good fireworks display. There was a large, mellow crowd--lots of kids with those neon shining tubes wrapped around them dancing around, a band playing before the fireworks started, people really seeming to have a good time. We are not usually crowd people, but this was fun. So our quiet weekend went out with a boom.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

July Already

We are getting things packed up for a weekend of camping. I will in the wilderness for the next three days--beyond the reach of cell service and Internet access. I'll have a good book or two, some knitting project, my crossword and sudoku puzzles, binoculars and camera, and some walking shoes and canoe paddles. Quiet time. I hope it warms up. The climatic conditions have gone pretty haywire. We had warmer weather in April than we had in June. Today the temperature is 56--way too cold for our brief summer season, too cold for camping in my book--but that is supposed to change by Saturday. Gotta go do some shopping. We do eat quite elegantly when we camp if nothing else.