Sunday, August 31, 2008

Fresh Peaches, Then Chutney

I have been obsessed with the idea of Peach-Ginger Chutney recently. Then Jenny gave me some peaches, sweet as you please, from a tree she planted herself! Yum. Above, that's how they look freshly skinned from their brief dunk in boiling water and then an ice-water bath. It was hard not to eat all of them right off of the cutting board. Slippery slurpery.

Here's how they look as chutney:
The chutney tastes pretty great, and I wish I could offer you a taste!

Oh! And I have a new reader, Ana, who stopped by to say hello yesterday. She is some kind of awesome sewer with a fabric obsession...Great inspiration for me! And to thank her for her visit and kind comment, an ATC will be making its way to her soon. So, hey, if you are reading this blog, take a moment to say hello and I'll send you a little Mailbox Love, too!

Friday, August 29, 2008

A Brief Intermission from Beauty

Portrait of my kitchen sink window, August 2008

Is your kitchen swarming with annoying fornicating fruit flies? OK, mine isn't swarming but there are quite a few, and they make me a little nuts this time of year. Yes, bountiful fresh produce that can't be refridgerated without degradation of quality sitting around on the counter, like tomatoes, fresh peaches, blueberries, etc., just providing ideal conditions for fruit fly paradise. Our friend Matthew, talented and wonderful Mr. Google, shared this homemade fruit fly trap to share with us when he visited earlier in the summer.

Take a small plastic bag, sandwich or produce varieties both work well, and poke 5 or 6 holes in the bottom of the bag with a sharp knife. The holes should be fruit-fly sized or a little larger.

Into a tallish glass, place some things fruit flies love: banana peels, peach pits, fruit peelings, whatever sweet stuff you have handy. Cover it a little with vinegar or beer, and voila, this is fruit fly ambrosia.

Now put your bag into the cup, with those holes close by to the ambrosia. Bunch the bag up a little, like this:
And affix with a rubber band around the rim of the glass:
(See how they're in there, some are even dead!) Notice that there is a bit of bag above the edge of the glass? That really fools them into thinking they're getting out---they equate Up with Out. But they are trapped. And that makes me glad.

Here's a harbor shot, totally Maine. It's pretty, so I don't know how it ended up here other than we were watching the Windjammer Parade today:

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Having a New Project is Like Being in Love

You know, that thrill to spend time to together...finding yourself daydreaming about the new love...hurrying through chores around the house so you can have a date, etc.

My date with Joanie for sewing mentorship was absolutely lovely. Of course she is patient with my tentative beginner-ness, sharing tips and ideas on how to do things, and how NOT to make my machine get out of timing again. I wasn't ready for our playdate to end, even after 4 hours (hmmm, now I remember how my kids must feel)!

I made one little purse and it was pretty good, but then I adjusted the pattern I had made a bit. The next purse, which you are seeing here, has some interfacing on the inside of the exterior fabric. I like the added stiffness, which makes it a little more finished-looking.

Here's a side view:
Detail of the "nip" which is the new vocabulary word I learned to describe that little tucked in part at the bottom, that makes it flat:
Can you just see the tiny pocket inside for some small treasure?
Today I hope to cut out pieces for two more purses!

Internship News...
I am almost done with my library schooling (bachelors degree in Library Science). The only thing left is my internship this fall, and then graduation in the spring (at very long last). On my way to this degree I have studied on both coasts, and in the middle, for Russian Studies and Fine Arts; I have attended Hampshire College, Reed College, Greenfield Community College, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and finally, University of Maine. The good part is that I like being a student.

My internship will be at the Camden-Rockport Middle School, with Mrs. Kathy Foss who is astonishing in her energy and enthusiasm for middle schoolers and literacy. I knew she was something special when I got rave reviews about her from 13 year-old boys. Check out the library's webpage if you want to get a feel for where I'll be spending one day a week this fall. I will be learning basic procedures and processes, helping with basics around the library, helping kids and maybe teachers, and working on some collection maintenance stuff (weeding, updating the online lists, creating annotated lists of historical fiction by unit, and using the whiz-bang Follett Title Wave software to analyze the collection needs).

So I will be extra busy and hoping to still make time for all of the other parts of my life that thrill me. Wish me luck, I start in two weeks!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Sewing Adventure is Beginning

Beautiful fine-wale corduroy at right, and a nice dotty print to go with.

Well, you may remember that I decided to overcome my sewing-machine fear, in large part thanks to all the sewing bloggers that I am inspired by. Thanks, ladies. So what will I be making? Some tiny little purses for our favorite tiny little girls who are about two-ish. (Ravenhill measured her own Lily, so I have an idea of how long the strap should be!) Hopefully this is simple enough for me, and will be a useful item to carry some small treasures in. Today I have a date with Joanie for a little sewing!

My machine has been spruced up by the Sewing Machine Wizard, Donald Sabins, who lives just ten minutes down the road. He is a sweet older fellow who has been doing machines for quite awhile and is teaching his daughter the art. Apparently savvy sewers from all over Maine bring their sewing machines his way. Since the timing was off in my machine, I guess it was no wonder that I had some trouble with it.

So then I started reading MoonChild Handwork Studio a Waldorf dollmaker extraordinaire and lover of organic fabrics, and she has some links to her frequent suppliers listed on her blog. So amidst my week of family nursing, I spent some evening hours therapeutically ogling fabrics (fabric porn?).

Here are some goodies from Bunte Fabrics, run by the very nice Yvonne, out in the Pacific Northwest somewhere. She imports lots of amazing European fabrics and embellishments...

Floral fabric for the outside of the purse, chickens for the lining:
Hello hedgehog ribbon, how could I not buy you?
And these birdies make me think of happy sunshine:
Yvonne put in these little squares of other adorable fabrics in, scraps just the right size for making pillows and aprons for the dollhouse people:

I also made a visit to Fabric Hound, and WOW there was a lot to look through---my eyes were goggling and I was saying, oh just five more minutes and THEN I'll go to bed. I settled on these two, I think for some satchel type things for my own boys:
I think the owls are some kind of Japanese fabric. I'm thinking owls on the outside, green flowers inside. God, I just love those guys. And the picture at the top of the blog is also from my Fabric Hound order. I am saving that pretty pair for when I am good enough to make a bag for myself!

So that is the beginning and end of my fabric stash!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

"I really didn't think about anything the whole time"

Airborn Anders and Jonas, above.

The title of this post are the words of my husband, driving home from our vacation on beautiful Moosehead Lake. We had the pleasure to be with one of our favorite families and one other amazing couple for four idyllic days. Lots of food and fun and friendship, and a blessed breath before the beginning of school ramps up.

The men and boys played epic amounts of strategy games. (Yawn. Good thing the ladies had plenty of books to talk about and knitting to accomplish.) This one is called Antike:

Evening session of MadLibs:
I was reading An Unexpected Forest by Eleanor Morse. I find the prose sometimes a little detached. Not that it's a good or bad thing. Good writing and I am enjoying the characters. It's about a man in midlife who inexplicably decides to plant 1000 spruce trees when they are delivered to him by mistake. My view from the hammock:

Jack recommends snowboarding goggles on windy motor boat rides:

Who's strong enough to carry the bucket? Let's test our muscles:

Anders and Jonas wrestling in the raft:

A flotilla of our small and middling children:

One of us (the Dishwashing King) was lucky enough to have naturally product-free porcupine hair:

We stopped by Spring Creek Bar-BQ, in Monson, on the way home. The best barbecue I've had in Maine, located handily near to the Appalachian Trail for hungry hikers!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Summer and Sickness

The garlic is harvested and clean! The Y chromosomes of this house have been hit with illness this week. So strange in summer, but high fevers and aches all around. Even Dada got sick, which is rare; good thing, too, because he is a terrible sick person. Mama stayed well---rock the immune system!---and played a lot of Florence Nightingale.
Cozy nests were all over the house; Sylvan was in the kitchen windowseat, above (windows covered for achy eyes).
Jonas, recovering, with his Monopoly loot in hand. Always a good sign of health returning, if you're up for Monopoly!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Jonas Returns with his Travel Journal

My favorite hand-carved by me stamp, with augmentation by Jonas. It looks like the chicken is pecking at a melon half!

Jonas returned from his road trip with a full travel journal! If you remember, I made a little book for my boy to take with him on his adventure with my mom and brother. They went to Indiana to visit a family beloved and East Coast transplant, Giselle (she is one of those Kid Magnets, who is a kind of a fairy godmother to many). He filled it with writings and drawings and doodles and hangman, lots of lists, some ephemera, and my mom and brother and others had their hands in it too.
Note torn cover, above, a good sign of use, at upper right hand side near the binding!

One of the new people that Jonas met was Abdul, who wrote Jonas's name in Arabic, here:

And here is the Arabic alphabet :
Jonas and my brother played a lot of Dungeons and Dragons while on the trip. Here is my brother's map of the capital city:
A filled-in chart...This car game is popular in our family:
We're so glad he's home with us again.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

August ATCs

"Throw yo' hands in the air...wave 'em around like you just don't care."
I've been holding this great quote by the Zen Master Ikkyu who was a pretty radical iconoclast for about 3 months, just waiting for the right image to come along.

An Art Date with Jake, recently. He is making ATCs for his students' birthday gifts (7th graders this year). He was generous enough to share the above Buddha background with me.

Above, "Sweat(Shop)-Free Underwear?"

I really love my husband, but sometimes I also like quiet evenings alone with no one talking to me. Especially after a long day of child-wrangling, including many negotiations that would be a credit to any international pow-wow of world leaders.

Below, this strange quote has been floating in my word box for awhile. But these happy swimmers don't look sorry to me:

Sylvan's first political ATC, above. I sometimes hear him humming under his breath, to the tune of "Tis the Season to Be Jolly:" Trade Your Mama for Obama, falalalala-lalalala. (I don't think he'd actually be into trading me, if his most favorite Mama Belly came along with me.)

Friday, August 8, 2008

Still Raining, Still Dreaming

The grass is just growing into a jungle. No hope for mowing in sight. Lots more indoor time than I usually expect in August, and chilly! But lots of time to read...

...And knit on my gossamer sweater, first mentioned here. The title of that post is also applicable to August in Maine as well. I am through with the body and working on the first sleeve. Jake calls it knit lingerie.

Inspired by so many of you stellar sewing Mamas out there (Robinsunne, Ravenhill, Blij Als Mij, Bluebirdbaby, Soule Mama, etc.), I am dusting off my machine and taking it to the local Wizard for a tune-up. The machine that has always made me a little nervous and usually frustrated, probably mostly because of me. No one ever taught me sewing. So can I blame my poor machine? I'm excited and scared to meet up with a Tuned Up Machine and a new mindset. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Signs of Sylvan

Notice the small item on the right side of the bed: it's a small wooden piglet, snuggled in a knit dollhouse-doll vest, sleeping next to the Sylvan Doll. We are looking at its bottom end.

After a half-hour fuss over not getting to watch a movie, Sylvan decided abruptly to make an ATC for Miss Joanie. We had been speaking about how some people do things like make art, play music, take a bike ride, sing loudly when they are REALLY angry. Instead of throwing books at each other. Some time passed, then this:
Sylvan is learning to sleep alone.
It's just too sticky in our queensize for two grown-ups and a big six-year old boy who likes to sleep with his elbows under your kidneys and his legs smushed between yours. This is his Cozy Nest on the floor of our bedroom. He starts in his own bed and migrates to this spot in the night. The first night it felt like having a newborn again: lots of waking up and fussing all night. The next morning my eyes felt like they were wearing sandpaper.