Monday, June 30, 2008

June sock - done!

I watched several shows on HGTV, saw a couple of movies with Steve, and knit on nothing but the sock Friday and Saturday. I wove in the ends last night and blocked it this morning. Now the pair is ready for me to enjoy wearing them this winter.

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Saturday, June 28, 2008

June sock - in progress (finally!)

In May I knit the first sock in the pair of a pattern from KnitPicks, the Lily of the Valley Socks Pattern.

This month has been busy here, so I didn't cast on the second sock in the pair (the one I'm supposed to have finished knitting by the end of June) until this past Wednesday night. I was able to knit a couple of rounds that night, but not a whole lot.

Penny called the next morning. I told her I'd cast on the sock and hoped to finish it by the end of the month. She very helpfully pointed out that there were only four days left of the month. Yes. I knew that. But I was also optimistic that I still would get it done, or at least come close, because the rest of the knitting group will start the next sock pattern on July 1. And it's a pattern that makes two socks on the same needles at the same time. So I really don't want to be left behind in the dust on that project.

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Friday, June 27, 2008

China Lake

I got China Lake by Anthony Hyde through PaperBackSwap, and I requested it because of the title.

Back in the early '80's Steve was stationed at China Lake in California to work on the AV-8B. He spent 6 months there and I'd travel from Irvine every weekend to see him. We saw a lot of the out-lying areas - Ridgecrest, Death Valley, Barstow, Calico - basically any place we could make a day-trip out of. So my desire to read this book was motivated by pure nostalgia.

Mr. Hyde wrote this spy/thriller/mystery set in China Lake, Scotland, and Wales. The mystery spans several decades and involves the Russians, the U.S. Naval operations at China Lake, and the Sidewinder missile. The story begins and ends at China Lake, and involves mysterious persons who may or may not be who they claim to be, gold mines, murder, and spying. It was a good story, and I'm glad the title hooked me into picking it up.


Asparagus Soup

One of my favorite food blogs is The Perfect Pantry. Last week she posted a recipe for asparagus soup served either hot or cold.

Jacy and I both like asparagus, and this recipe had no dairy in it, so it looked like something we should try.

Today I made it and it was delicious - and so easy! Definitely a keeper "new recipe."

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Haircut (not mine)

Jacy got her hair cut. Doesn't it look great?


Pray, then plan

Every July I plan for the upcoming school year. I gather materials, look over what I have, order what (if anything) I need, and write out all the lesson plans for all the children in each and every subject area. It usually takes me about two weeks, and I look forward with excitement and eagerness to my planning time. We've homeschooled for 18 years in six different states, and this "plan of attack" has always served me well. I'm not a natural organizer, and I've found that spending the time organizing the entire school year before we begin it makes everything flow more smoothly in our household.

This year I'm struggling to feel anything at all. I'm just disinterested. But I still have to do it. So I'm taking this week, plus an extra day, to pray and pray and pray. For two days I'm also fasting while praying. And I'm asking Steve for prayers, and for his guidance and wisdom.

I'm also reading some in a few of my favorite homeschooling resources. They're all books I've read completely before (some more than once) so this week I'm just dipping in and reading a chapter here, a few pages there and getting a few ideas.

But the book I'm spending the most time reading is this one:

I'm convinced that for encouragement, wisdom, guidance, and excitement, it will motivate me the most.


Sunday, June 22, 2008

Potholder/hotpad - crocheted (Part II)

Continue to single crochet into each stitch. You can add other colors, if you like. The ends don't have to be woven in (I just tied a square knot) because they'll be inside the finished pad:

If you look at the potholder from the side, it will look like a purse or pocket:

But when you squash it on the diagonal, you can see what you're working towards:

When the edges - on the diagonal - meet, cut the yarn and sew it up:

One side:

The other side:

Ta-da! A perfect way to use up scraps of cotton yarn left over from knitting dishcloths.


Potholder/hotpad - crocheted (Part I)

Make a chain of 37 stitches:

Single crochet into the side of each chain stitch down to the slipknot:

When you reach the slipknot, continue to single crochet, this time up the other side of each of the 37 chain stitches:

When you finish the second side, you'll be where you began the single crochet stitch. From this point on, single crochet into each stitch:


Saturday, June 21, 2008

Bright dishcloths

Jacy will share an apartment with three other girls next year. I offered to make them some dishcloths and hotpads so Jacy chose bright colored yarn and I started knitting. This has been my portable knitting for the past week or so. I figure they'll need at least 6 dishcloths, and the same number of hotpads.

The hotpads are made from the yarn left over from the dishcloths, and are a simple pattern Meg told me about - she got it from Sarah, who learned it from her grandmother. (Crochet a chain of 37 stitches. Single chain crochet into the side of the chain - first down one side, then up the other. After that, just single chain into each stitch around and around and the pad just magically closes up onto itself - kind of like one of those old coin purses. It's a perfect project for someone who has never learned to crochet - like me!)


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Modern Quilt Wrap - over half-way!

The Modern Quilt Wrap is over half-way completed. Only 30-something blocks to go until it's finished. And it really is a wrap - see how long it is already?


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Unfinished business

This is a little tablecloth I began making for my mother to give her on Mother's Day - Mother's Day 2003. I took about three days to baste the fabric, then completed one design square each day after that. (Each square is a pattern from Victoria Sampler- the Beyond Cross Stitch series by Thea Dueck.) Since I began it in March, I had plenty of time to finish it.

But one day I put it down and worked on something else. A week went by. Then another week. Mother's Day came and went. And somehow I just forgot to get it out and finish it. When I did pull it out to work on it, I realized I could no longer see very well to do the delicate work required in each pattern.

Last weekend I looked at it again and decided I had to finish it, no matter what. I only have 4 squares left undone.

Working slowly and carefully I thought I could finish it in about two weeks, then pull out the basting threads and hem it and finally give it to Mom.

However... when I was getting rid of all my needlework supplies I didn't think to keep any metallic thread and wouldn't you know, I need just enough to make 4 little Algerian eyes in each remaining square. So now I'm stuck again while I wait for the thread to be shipped to me.


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Summer of the Great-Grandmother

Jill recommended that I read Madeleine L'Engle's book, The Summer of the Great-Grandmother. This book is partly a memoir of Ms. L'Engle's life, and partly a biography of her mother (the great-grand-mother of the title) and partly an account of the last summer her mother spent with Madeleine and her husband and son, and two of Madeleine's grandchildren at the family's home, Crosswicks.

It's a lovely tribute to her mother and to her father, who died decades earlier. It's also a compassionate and honest confession of the decisions made while caring for an elderly parent whose physical, mental, and emotional decline affect every family member. It could have been a sad book, but I found it very tender and hopeful.


Black Bean Hummus

Finding tasty recipes that don't have any dairy products, sugar, or any kind of grain in them can be difficult. I do enjoy a challenge, though, and thankfully I have a friend with family members who must also avoid those items. She has given me lots of good ideas and recipes that we're trying out this summer.

This recipe for black bean hummus was in the food section of the newspaper last week. Mom made it, then we made it. It's good, easy, and involves no cooking or baking so it doesn't heat up the kitchen.

Black Bean Hummus
3 cloves garlic
1/2 c. packed fresh cilantro leaves
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 Tbsp. olive oil
3 Tbsp. organic almond butter or peanut butter
juice from 1 to 2 limes

Peel garlic and rinse cilantro, shaking off excess water. Rinse and drain black beans. Drop garlic cloves and cilantro in food processor and chop finely. Add beans, almond butter, oil, and lime juice. Process until beans are pureed and dip is mixed well - about one minute. Taste hummus and add additional lime juice as desired. Makes 1 1/2 cups.

We ate it with carrot and celery sticks and corn chips.

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Saturday, June 07, 2008

Summer reading

Meg asks what others are reading this summer. Here's my pile - a blend of children's and adult's books, not much non-fiction and nothing really deep:

China Lake by Anthony Hyde
Enquiry by Dick Francis
Blooming by Susan Allen Toth
Three Bags Full by Leonie Swann
The Summer of the Great-Grandmother by Madeleine L'Engle
Applied Economics by Thomas Sowell
World without End by Ken Follett
The Secret of Fiery Gorge by Wilson Gage
French Lessons by Peter Mayle
The Family from One End Street by Eve Garnett
Further Adventures of the Family from One End Street by Eve Garnett
Nurse Matilda: The Collected Tales by Christianna Brand
The Keeper of the Bees by Gene Stratton-Porter

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Friday, June 06, 2008

London 1945

My reading list selection for May was London 1945: Life in the Debris of War by Maureen Waller.

The book details the conditions in London in 1945. The emphasis is on the effects of the last days of the war and the beginning of peace. As I read I was amazed at the hardiness of the British people as they coped with the V-1 and V-2 bombs, the chaos of the city and of their lives, and the scarcity of everything - food, clothing, homes, building supplies. They just doggedly continued on, refusing to give up. And the hardships continued long after the war was over, although Ms. Waller doesn't dwell much on that.

It was interesting to learn what Londoners were reading at that time. Ms. Waller writes that the classics were read a lot, especially works of Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Anthony Trollope, and others. Also, series by John Galsworthy and Hugh Walpole and books by Dorothy Sayers and Georgette Heyer were popular.

The chapter on the evacuation of the children of London could have served as the inspiration for Michelle Magorian's book, Good Night, Mr. Tom and Noel Streatfeild's book, When the Siren Wailed if those books had not been written before this one. Ms. Waller points out that for some children, their foster homes and families were better than what they left behind in London, while others were miserable in their new surroundings and couldn't wait to get back.

Also included were photos of the destruction, of shelters, celebrations, and homecomings. In conclusion, Ms. Waller notes that those in charge of rebuilding London realized that it would take 50 years to accomplish, and that time has proven them correct in their estimation, but that the city as it is now was well worth the wait.

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Thursday, June 05, 2008

Sleeping kittens

The kittens raced around the house for about an hour, then climbed up into a chair in the family room to nap and recharge their batteries. Steve thought it was funny that they snuggled up to the pillow with the cat print fabric.


Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Fresh Lime Salsa

It's getting pretty hot now, and as the days get warmer, my inclination to cook or bake is almost non-existent. Recipes that feature cold, fresh food are what I want.

Jacy spotted a recipe on the side of a bag of Mission Tortilla Strips and suggested that we make it as our new recipe of the week. I bought the ingredients and Joan and Jacy diced, minced and mixed. The result was delicious and was eaten very quickly - first with the tortilla chips, then later with cold pre-cooked shrimp thown in.

Fresh Lime Salsa

1 large ripe red tomato, diced

8 medium-sized tomatillos, husked, rinsed, and chopped

1/4 cup minced red bell pepper

1/2 tsp. minced onion

1 tsp. grated lime peel

1 Tbsp. lime juice

Mix all ingredients together in nonmetal bowl. If made ahead, cover and refrigerate up to four hours.

Since this makes a rather dinky (well, for a family the size of ours at least) amount, we used about 8 tomatoes, an entire onion, and the peel and juice from 2 limes. Joan and Jacy also added Cavender's Greek Seasoning because they thought it needed a bit more zing.

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Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Abbey is 3

Abbey is now officially three years old, but we celebrated her birthday a week ago before Amy and the girls went to Florida. As usual, Joan made the cake. The decorating was a bit tricky because Abbey kept changing her mind as to what she wanted her cake to look like. Finally Joan said, "That's it! No more changes. It's balloons, and only balloons!" (What will we do when we no longer have a resident cake-baker?)
Happy Birthday Abbey!


Monday, June 02, 2008

Kira and Oliver are married

On Saturday Oliver and Kira were married and now they are on their honeymoon. The wedding and reception were lovely and were such an amazing celebration of God's purpose in making families. To Oliver and Kira: May they live a long contented life together continually giving honor and glory to God!

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