Saturday, November 16, 2013

Keep It Simpler

My favorite simple food is definitely popcorn. I love the heirloom varieties Geoff's aunt Laura sends us at Christmas. Those have such delicious flavors. Nutty, interesting notes. Both Geoff and I are over the moon for nutritional yeast sprinkled (with a small shovel) over our popped corn. Oh-my-gosh nutritional yeast has been a culinary awakening for us, thanks to another generous Christmas gift, from our friend Sandy. Is it any wonder I haven't managed to crack open a cook book in months? My good intentions to follow Alice Water's recipes are foiled by crazy schedules, different appetites and diets, hectic days, and my fondness for even simpler recipes.

I like date nights with Geoff... the ones where we decide to watch a movie, at home, in bed. So simple! Naturally, we face the Herculean task of having to decide what to watch, so the movie night almost invariably becomes preview night. We watch preview after preview, and make a list, rating each feature as we go. Cozy and snoozy, late into the night we laugh, or are nonplussed, and our list grows and grows. Yes! No! Maybe! Never! Sometimes Geoff cross references our choice by double checking with rotten tomatoes. By the time another date movie night comes along the list is either lost, or we decide to see if any new features have come along. Holding hands, and laughing... I love it.

Friday, November 15, 2013

{this moment}

A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment.
A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

:: Inspired by Soule Mama ::

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments, for all to find and see.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Thanksgiving Rocks

When Maria came home from school I had a craft project up and running for us to play with together, thanks to No Time For Flashcard's Thanksgiving Spelling Stones inspiration. Spelling Stones rock!

Around our house we happen to have a lot of smooth stones. I collected smaller, flat ones, and gave one face of them a coat of green craft paint (acrylic, satin). The surface paint went on quick with our small sponge brushes.

Twelve stones were painted with the letters to spell t-h-a-n-k-s-g-i-v-i-n-g and now we have a fun word search game, something like Boggle. Maria and I love to play spelling games. How many words can you find in the word Thanksgiving?

The letters are fun... but we couldn't stop there! Maria painted a turkey, a pumpkin pie, and certain kitty we know.

I love a project that I can jump into as soon as the inspiration kicks in, which means I happen to have the supplies on hand... lucky me! BUT... if I should happen to be at a craft store, I would love to get more satin and gloss paints, because they look much better than the flat paints. Tiny, pointy tipped brushes are a bonus, too.

Maria is developing a board game to play with the animals.

You may find us beach combing soon. We are having such a good time, and I don't know how much more raiding we can do from our yard!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Learning to Sew

William and I have started our second third day of sewing his new vest. It's going well. I'm trying to impart as much as I know about selvege, fabric grain, bobbin tension, and reading patterns. Okay... Reading pattern instructions, what is the deal with those?! I refuse to credit the pattern company, to recommend it for anything but the forms, a starting point. I've known for quite some time that the instructions can be vague, obtuse, even seemingly misleading, but all these issues are far more pronounced when you are trying to guide a beginning sew-er. ugh!

So, by step four-five when the confusion was more than I could tolerate, we turned to the open school house that is YouTube. We owe a debt of gratitude to... this tutorial, especially at about 54 minutes. It is a thoroughly enlightening and helpful vest sewing tutorial. Thank you Professor Pincushion!

William has been keen on learning every step, getting the details right. I think this may be the first lined garment I've ever attempted, so I am learning, and being challenged, too. Hmmm... there seems to be a pattern here, when my sons want sewing lessons, I get to face new technical hurdles!

We moved the sewing machine out the office and onto the dining table. There is nothing nicer than having all the tools and machines at hand... the ironing board, good light, space, everything ready to go. I guess sewing lessons are more than technical points. There is a lot to learn about being prepared, being in the right frame of mind. Sewing takes patience.

William has already had a chance to add his engineering and graphics skills to the project. The pattern has slim ties that would be tied in the back... to cinch the sides in. William went to the computer and printed out a spline for two ties that will be laced, using eyelets. They look good, more substantial and stylish than the original plan.

Sew many steps! I don't want to discourage William with my attitude, but sometimes the more engineering bits of sewing really strain my brain! I was putting my seam ripper to work (again!) after assuring William that he should sew one section of the vest that should have been left open. Oh well. I had a healthy laugh at myself after saying for the umpteenth time, "This is not my favorite part..." Cutting out the tissue, pinning, deciphering the instructions, finding the straight grain line, pressing all the seams, taking out the pins, threading the bobbin... golly, what part of sewing is my favorite part?! To be honest, I love the part when I am all done! But I do enjoy sewing. I don't know why this makes any sense. And maybe it makes no sense... I am okay with this. (I hope William manages to find this worthwhile, in spite of me!)

Here are some sewing lessons I am happy to share:

Relax... maybe sewing relaxes you, but if you find your frustration increasing, if you start hurling colorful language at inanimate objects, then take a break. Walk, have a snack, start a load of laundry, rake some leaves. I've never had happy results trying to push through on a sewing project when I am confused, tired, hungry, cranky, stressed or too distracted. And it pays to remember that the sewing can wait, and it will be a happier and more successful process when I feel calm.

Take the challenge that gets you excited... sure, it helps to learn basics on fabric scraps and straight lines, but don't deny yourself the challenge of making something you are going to enjoy, something that you actually want. Napkins and patchwork are good beginning projects. A vest... well, it's not easy, but taking our time, accepting help, keeping our humor, and having our seam ripper handy, we will learn a lot, and have something good to appreciate for our effort. There's no shame in making mistakes... we just have to try again.

Today we are starting over on the side seams! The vest fits a lot bigger than that #$%^! pattern measured for, so we are going to delve into recutting the side seams. Where did I set the seam ripper?
But wait... first I will sit with the chickens, brush the goats, breath.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Five Good Things

Alex, Bambi, William, Lucas, Max, & Maria~
San Diego Safari Park~

It will always be the Wild Animal Park for us, but whatever they call it, this research and preservation, sister park of the San Diego Zoo is always a worthwhile place to visit. We packed sandwiches, grabbed our annual passes, and enjoyed a perfect fall day, when we had the park all to ourselves, and none of the 106 degree fahrenheit days they get in the summer! Maybe it's been too long since our last visit, because Maria was delighted and enthralled by every sight. Or maybe it's just that seeing elephants, cheetahs, giraffes, bats, African Toads, and rhinoceros up close in the beautiful back country is enthralling. It was a fun day. Relaxed. We saw a dozen or more mule deer contentedly browsing in the open space. There are many free roaming species that enjoy the protection of the Zoo. It felt special seeing these wide eyed beauties, and I was reminded of Ada, and Tasha Goat.

Good things:

1. Veterans, and their families: Their service, and the significance of all they sacrifice.

2. Counting down the days until Thanksgiving, and making plans, revisiting traditions, anticipating the joy of gathering with loved ones.

3. A dependable, and roomy ride, and another ride for back-up. It's such a blessing to be able to go where we want to go.

4. Pulling together to get a job done... our backyard benefitted from a first round of sorting, decluttering, and small repairs. I'm inspired to do more, more, more.

5. Travel slide shows... yours, ours, new, old. I love seeing those snapshots and memorable moments that happen in new places.

Won't you please share, too! Tell us your good things.