Tuesday, August 28, 2007

some follow-up thoughts

Well, I wish more people had wandered by to read and comment on my last post. Maybe they still will - summer is still going for many and folks aren't on their computers as much, I suppose. Are you reading this and lurking? Come on, tell me how you feel about your food! I'm not fishing for comments so I can feel cool and popular, I'm just really, really interested in how people view their eating.

Thanks to you girls who did comment. It took me 2 hours to try and write an articulate post, and even now I can think of a million more things I'd like to say. Anne - first of all, where is your blog? I want to see those chickens in action! Thank you for weighing in from overseas. Pam - you are sweet to compliment me. Also, my sis is allergic to wheat so we're familiar with that pain. Good for you for exposing your kids to all the alternatives! And Karen - here's how I make crock pot applesauce:

I use just about any kind of sweet eating apple, and I make a ton to freeze. If you are not using organic, really clean them well. I spray mine with fruit wash and give them a light scrub with a brush. You can peel them if you want, but it's faster not to, and your applesauce will have a prettier color if you include the skins.

Core and section the apples.

Throw them in the crock pot.

Set the pot to low and cover. Check on the apples every once in awhile and stir them down. Once they turn to mush, you're done. Run them through a food mill to get the skins out and make the applesauce smooth (just scoop ladles-full into the mill and put a big bowl underneath). Then taste it and add sugar or cinnamon to taste. Depending on your apples you might not need to add anything at all.

This applesauce tastes most amazing when warm. It freezes extremely well, and works nicely for baby food because it's so smooth.

Now, you can get the same result much, much faster if you just cook the apples down on the stovetop, but a) you have to babysit them so they don't burn, and b) you don't get the awesome smell from apples cooking down for hours on the counter.


One more thought about organic food, and I will turn this blog back to crafts.

Karen commented about the price of organics. Yes, I agree the prices seem outrageous. Mostly that is because we are used to our food being so cheap. I think we tend to view our grocery budget in a vacuum, too. We are used to spending however much we spend per week and that's it. I know if I go much over $80 or so that I'm buying something weird, or I'm refilling my freezer with meats. But then again, remember we are only 3 people and one is only a toddler, so my budget is pretty low. Some of you with 3, 4, 5 kids must spend a fortune, and I can definitely see why you wouldn't want to spend the money on organic milk when you go through several gallons a week.

But consider where we all throw money away. Do you go to Starbucks? Aha! I know you do! We all do it once in awhile, and some people go often. I rarely go, but that doesn't mean I wouldn't love to. I am just constrained by my budget and the fact that I don't have a location nearby. A few weeks ago Hubs and I decided to take a ride after dinner, just to get out of the house. He asked where I wanted to go and I said, hey, let's get some Starbucks. We never, ever go out, so sometimes allow ourselves these small indulgences.

Anyway, we drove all the way there, and Hubs went in for the coffees while I stayed in the car with Daughter. He came out with two drinks, but he was shaking his head and muttering something as he walked. When he got in the car he said, "I can't believe this. $7.29 for two cups of coffee."

Dudes! We willingly spent over SEVEN DOLLARS on two lattes (a tall and a grande). Of course, that is a rare thing for us, but still! SEVEN DOLLARS! For that money I could have bought a gallon of organic milk and a dozen organic eggs which would have nourished all 3 of us for at least a week.

Do you buy bottled water? I won't even get into the economics of that. I'll just say there are precious few places in America where you can't get excellent tap water, but people still buy it by the gallon. I have 2 gallons of store-brand spring water in my pantry for emergencies, in case we lose water for any reason (it happened last year when a water main broke down the street), but I don't buy it for regular drinking.

Does that make sense? Do you see the point I'm trying to make? I mean, I am not trying to be an evangelist, and I have never actually bought these organic items of which I speak. Right now my fridge contains a gallon of regular 2% milk and a dozen regular supermarket eggs. I'm just saying I can see where it makes sense to buy them. I can see how it would not be that hard to put a few better things in the budget. I would have to be willing to swallow a grocery bill of maybe $100 instead of $80, and give up some other things that are not necessary in my life. I don't actually need more fabrics or yarns. I don't have to buy cute clothes just because I see them on sale. My family has what we need to be warm and dry and yes, even stylish.

We are a total consumer culture, as you all know. As a nation, we're spenders, not savers. The question is, what do we want to spend our money on? I'm not even talking about saving the earth. Like I said, we're not really 'green' and I'm not a super-duper environmentalist. I'm just talking about our most precious thing - our bodies and the bodies of our children. Isn't what we put in them more important than what we put on them, or the places we go or the things we do which we willingly spend money on? I think about that every time I get gas for my car. $3 per gallon for something I will immediately burn up and will not actually benefit me in any tangible way! $3 per gallon so I can get around, but not $4 or $5 per gallon for the milk my Daughter and I need to, you know, build our bones. Many people will spend $30, $40, $50 or more on things like jeans and sneakers, but are aghast at the idea of $5 for a bag of apples instead of $3.

It's weird, isn't it? I mean, I could eliminate cookies, coke, and that pizza we order ever now and then and use that money to get better fresh ingredients for my family. I can make my own cookies (easy, usually do anyway but it's been too darn hot to bake this summer), and my husband would have to get over himself and drink something besides cola. I don't know, it just seems like it might be a good thing to do.

Well, that's enough of that. Just know if you come over to my house my toilet will be clean 'cause it's been chemicalled to death, but you probably won't find anything too funky or junky in my fridge or cupboards. We're going to do better for ourselves around here!

Back to my regularly scheduled craftiness soon. Thanks for bearing with me through my Animal, Vegetable, Miracle obsession.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

thoughts on "animal, vegetable, miracle"

Disclaimer: This is kind of random, kind of disorganized, and totally my own opinions.

I'm not one to review books...mostly because I'm not one to read books anymore, sadly. What can I say? These days I tend to spend my precious free time sewing, knitting, or catching some extra zzzzz's.

But I was drawn in by the hype surrounding Barbara Kingsolver's latest offering - Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: a year of food life. I really like Barbara Kingsolver and have enjoyed almost everything she's written, so I thought I'd check this one out. After waiting and waiting for it to become available from my local library, I finally got it, and plowed through it in just a few days.


First I have to say I enjoyed it. That's important! I wanted to keep reading it, and I recommend it just for it's entertainment value. She writes a good story. For those who don't know, a very simple explanation of the "plot" is this: BK and her family move from the Southwest to Appalachia to spend a year "living off the land" so to speak. They grow all their own produce, eat local meats and dairy, and do their best to source all of their edibles within their community.
But that's a lame way to really explain this book. It's about that and so much more. I could probably write for days and days about it, but I'll just share a few thoughts.

Her writings about eating in Italy are totally, 100% right on. If you love food and have a desire to travel, save your money and go to Italy. I was extremely lucky to have this experience as well, and BK describes it to a T.

The book made me want to immediately head for a local farm market and buy fresh stuff. I realized that I shop in exactly the manner she describes as her "old" life - I go into the supermarket and just get whatever I want, whenever I want it. However, as I read I really found myself grappling with this "problem" (if you see it as such). I like bananas. I love coffee. Sometimes I want a tomato in the middle of winter. California berries? Delicious. Citrus fruits and juices? Delicious and necessary for prevention of, you know, scurvy. I just can't see myself telling my child "no more bananas" because we don't grow them locally. And wow, there is NO WAY I am willing to give up coffee and tea (nor does Kingsolver...it's an exception to their local eating rule but her family bought only fair trade).

I also happen to believe that importing stuff like coffee and bananas can be good and beneficial. Really! I know the major winners are always the importers, but I'd like to see a lot more info about the growers before I write them off as the losers in the import equation. We do offer them a market for their goods...I happen to think that's a positive thing. But then again, I'm a Republican and a capitalist and all that, so, whatev. Another topic for another day.

I also realized that I am already doing many things right. She talks a lot about the benefits of organic vs. processed, and local vs. trucked-in-from-distant-lands, and I can't always afford organic or avoid imported items. But at least by buying good stuff I am already ahead of many Americans. There are no pop-tarts on my shelves, we eat breads and cereals with whole grains (ie, no white bread in my house ever), I always have fresh fruit in my cart, and either fresh veg or the plain, flash-frozen kind with no additives. My kid drinks milk and 100% juice and water, but that's it. I buy and use real butter, milk, and cream, and purchase the best cuts of meat I can afford. In fact, I've even started doing a majority of my baking, from bread to cookies to cakes, from this book, just to make our treats a tad better for us.

So hooray for me. But I found myself sort of rolling my eyes at some of the things the author and her husband (who contributed in sidebars) suggested about creating change in our country. I mean, come on. We have all been to WalMart and seen the carts loaded with soda and chips and cookies and frozen dinners and crap. We all hit the grocery store at least once a week - do what I do and skip the trashy magazine covers in the checkout line. Instead, be a cart voyeur. Look at what the lady behind you or in front of you is loading onto the conveyor. I've turned into kind of a nut about health since having a child. I've always tried to be healthy in general, but now that I'm fully responsible for another human being, I've gone slightly off the beam. So the majority of what I load into my shopping cart is GOOD ACTUAL REAL FOOD, or the ingredients to make good foods myself. Look around the store next time you go and check yourself. Check the people around you. It will make you a little bit sick, I bet. Just observe what people are feeding their families. Their children. Eew.

We're not going to change the country anytime soon. All the subsidies will continue to go to the corn and soybean folks, and crap will continue to flood the market. But at least people will continue to farm in a healthy way in little pockets throughout the country, and I do believe we all have access to a farm market wherever we live (did you know you can often use food stamps there, and many accept WIC too? I certainly did not). Perhaps we can't all afford organics and grass-fed or grass-finished beef, but we can do a little better for our families and skip the lean cuisines and McDonald's, right? And, psssssst...here is a secret: the farm market produce I investigated on Friday afternoon? It was cheaper than the stuff at the supermarket, so for me, at least, the excuse that fresh stuff is too expensive doesn't fly. Check this out for yourselves and share what you find - how are your local prices? As an added plus, Daughter got a huge kick out of seeing, touching, and talking about all the interesting vegetables and fruits we saw. A great learning opportunity, and something to do when you're sitting around the house doing nothing.

I have a friend who has decided to eliminate all high-fructose corn syrup from her diet and the diets of her husband and two children. Well, bully for her, but I won't go that far. My daughter has more than passing familiarity with the Oreo. She loves graham crackers. She will only drink milk if it is flavored with chocolate. Hello, that is ALL hfcs, but I feel it is better that she drink the milk than avoid the hfcs (and also, Hershey makes a syrup with calcium and vitamins...not perfect, but better than the regular stuff). Now, that doesn't mean I give her free reign to consume that stuff - Oreos are a very occasional treat. She eats a few graham crackers here and there, usually with apple slices or raisins as her snack. But I figure, heck, I grew up eating all that stuff too, and I turned out to be a pretty healthy adult. The key is moderation, don't you agree?

I would love to turn my backyard into a garden. I would love to emulate BK and her family. In fact, I'd love to meet the woman now that I've read this book, and visit her farm and learn more from her. I would even dig observing the 'harvesting' of the roosters and turkeys. Gross, but fascinating!

But I don't see it happening. Her experiment involved the efforts of her whole family, and she was working on a scale I can't imagine - really what they created was a tiny farm, resulting in hundreds of pounds of tomatoes and zucchinis, a freezer and pantry filled with the bounty of a summer's worth of work, sunup to sundown, with all hands on deck. And I don't know if I have the discipline required to eat only what is locally available to me. I know my family would balk at it.

What I can do is take her advice to buy what is in season right now and make use of my freezer. I'm already kicking myself for not buying more blueberries when they were abundant and cheap, but I will start now and pick up produce that can be frozen so that I'm supporting local farms and using good ingredients through the winter. With autumn almost upon us I'm looking forward to apple desserts - pies and cobblers - but I never thought to slice up the required amounts and freeze them for future baking, until I read about it in this book. Awesome idea, and if the filling is already prepped, I can whip up a pastry and make a pie in minutes. Sah-weet. And NY State apples? Awesome, and so cheap when in season. We're lucky to have them, as well as NY cheddars and local maple syrup. Daughter has been coming along for the trip to buy maple syrup right from the barn where it's been boiled down since she was wee, and I'm hoping to take her on an apple-picking expedition this fall. So much fun, and it's educational and healthy. If you have agriculture of any kind where you live, have your kids seen it? Take them, I bet they'll love it**.

I believe somewhere in the book it is suggested that if you can add only one organic thing to your diet, make it dairy. So while I am skeptical about the effect of hormones in our dairy (my sisters and I drank regular ol' cow milk and went through completely normal puberty), I may start buying organic milk, and possibly organic eggs, because I hear they taste completely awesome. Those are some expensive things, but I figure if my husband can go out for lunch each day, I can spend $5 or $7 per week on milk and eggs!

So, having read this book, I am newly inspired to basically keep doing what I'm doing. My family isn't "green" per se...we kind of recycle but we're not too good at it, we use detergents with phosphates because they clean the clothes better than the other stuff, and I happen to believe that a product doesn't clean well unless it burns my nose when I spray it on. BUT, I have switched to cloth diapers, I grow herbs now and plan to grow a few more things next summer (a few tomatoes, some zucchini, maybe some root veg like onions and garlic if they will grow well in my climate...need to research that), I sometimes remember to bring cloth bags to the supermarket to avoid the plastics, and I have cute kitcheny fabrics waiting to be turned into many cloth napkins so I can stop buying paper ones. We will continue to eat in as healthy a manner as possible...but that doesn't mean I'll never buy another Oreo or never hit another drive-through.

I think we all have to do what works for us, and what is best for our families. As wives and mothers, whether we like it or not, most of us have the responsibility of feeding our families. We can look at that as a curse, or a gift. I happen to believe it's a bit of both, depending on the day! But whatever it is, it is a serious thing, and we would do well to remember that.

Read the book. Try the recipes. I look forward to hearing what other people have to say about this pretty great book as they finish reading it. If you've read it, or have general thoughts about this, do leave a comment.

**When I taught preschool to 3 year olds, we made applesauce together using in-season apples and a crock pot. At snack time almost every child refused to eat it, despite the fact that they regularly ate the applesauce we sometimes served with lunch. I asked why and the response was: "I've never had the kind made from apples!" IS THAT NOT SAD?!?!?

Thursday, August 23, 2007


This woman puts me to shame. It's stuff like hers that inspires me to become a much better seamstress. Look at the fairy outfits! LOOK!!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

autumn threads

I am actually SO NOT ready for autumn. We had a nice stretch of cool days this week, and some much needed rain, but I'm still soaking up the sunshine and enjoying going out without jackets and whatnot.

The end of summer actually makes me feel very...I don't know...agitated? Yes, I think agitated is the word. The weather is changing, bringing cool nights and mornings, the days are starting to get noticeably shorter, and soon we will be trapped in the house, chilly and bored. The older I get, the harder winter is for me from a mental and emotional standpoint. I truly think that at some point we may need to move to a nicer climate - someplace that isn't buried under 6 months of cold darkness!

Add those changes to the fact that I am no longer a student, and don't have children in school yet, and I just end up feeling weird at this time of year. Like something is supposed to happen, but nothing does. Our days remain fundamentally the same, just with more noisy school buses trundling past our house.

However, there is one good thing about the cooler weather and dark, yucky days...more knitting and sewing of woolly warm things. First up, an all-purpose corduroy dress for Daughter:

I say all-purpose because it is really just a basic pleated, long sleeved dress...nothing too fancy here, but it will work equally well for playing and for, say, Thanksgiving. I think this lovely paisley corduroy (Joann Fabrics, in a rare awesome score) dresses it up enough to make it appropriate for holiday wear.

Here is a closeup of the pleats and the bodice:

I was tickled with how well the pleats worked out, and happy to have learned a new sewing skill - these are my first pleats, and I'm happy to say they're totally easy to do and much more fun than stinky old gathers.

The back:

There are 2 pleats in the back, and a 12" zipper, making it very easy to put on and take off. The zipper went in without a hitch*, the pleats matched up perfectly across the shoulder seams, and the sleeve seams are smooth. Happiness!

Here is the inside, to show how I finished everything:

I used a serger to finish all the raw edges, even those where the pleats are sewn. I want this dress to hold up through lots of wearing and washing, so some sort of finishing technique was definitely necessary. I highly recommend doing something to finish the seams on the garments you make, even if you don't have access to a serger - use pinking shears, zig-zag the edges with your sewing machine, use French seams or flat-felled seams, bind the raw edges (time consuming but gorgeous), or use seam binding/hem tape to prevent fraying.

One of my main goals is to make my homemade garments look more like off-the-rack items. Good finishing techniques go a long way toward making that happen. This dress is actually not 100% finished, as I still have to get out a needle and thread to tack down all the facings and sew in a hook & eye closure above the zipper in back.

For now, I'm putting sewing on the back burner. Sometime in the next month I'll whip up a quick pair of denim pull-on pants for Daughter because I bought the fabric and she needs jeans, but beyond that, I need to wait and see how much she grows and what she has vs. what she will need for cold weather. There's knitting going on, though, so watch this space for woolly wonders.

*If you have trouble sewing in zippers, I can offer this little bit of advice: sew your zippers in with the garment open. I follow the directions to sew the garment together and backstitch at the large dot/notch/whatever, but then I do not baste the garment closed where the zipper will be placed.

First, finish the raw edges (serge, pink, whatever). Then press these edges back 5/8" or whatever your seam allowance is for below the zipper stop. Carefully pin the zipper to one folded edge, then the other. The brilliance here is that you can very easily check both sides and open and close the zipper to check placement and get the zipper teeth lined up perfectly. Otherwise you are working blindly, which I think is silly and really difficult, too.

Finally, baste and sew as usual.

I know this works for things like dresses and skirts with back or side seams. I've never made pants with a fly, though, so definitely follow your pattern directions for those!

Monday, August 20, 2007

totally awesome

This morning, I washed one of my contact lenses down the drain.

Now I am stuck with my cruddy, scratched, beat-up old glasses for at least 2 weeks while a replacement is ordered, made, and delivered to my eye doctor. A replacement which I will have to pay for, out of my pocket, because my insurance will only buy me one pair per year and I am 6 weeks shy of that right now.


Friday, August 17, 2007

falling apart

Wow, I appreciate the commiseration re: getting small fry out the door and into the car. Good thoughts, all. And I have to add that it isn't that Daughter doesn't want to come with me, it's just that it takes so dang long because she wants to take her sweet time and she is easily distracted. Usually I don't mind if we are delayed because she wants to sit on the driveway and observe a cool green bug, and if we're not in a hurry to get somewhere, but when she is just flitting around the house, running away and whatnot...well, that is what drives me to drink. Ay-yi-yi.

This has just been a tough week for me. Seems like I clean up a room, walk away, and when I come back there are seventy thousand little plastic pieces of crap all over the floor again. I can't get a meal on the table without having to stop and 'discipline' my child twelve times. I could barely get through the grocery shopping/schlepping/putting away yesterday, because it truly feels like every step is a battle with my child. I hope this is normal stuff for a 2 year old. Yesterday she told me this charming tidbit: "I bein' naughty...but I soooooooooo cute!"

Help me. Send booze. Or prozac. Or something.

I think I need to go hit the sewing machine for the duration of naptime. Might make me feel like I've accomplished something useful if I at least sew a few seams.

Thursday, August 16, 2007


Does anyone have a suggestion for how to get a 2 year old out of the house in the morning without it taking 1.5 hours? I mean, from the time I say, "we have to go to the grocery store" to the time we are actually in the car has turned into basically the entire morning. Daughter used to be so agreeable and compliant...and now she is 2. Why am I thinking I would actually like another child someday when I can't even get this one into her sandals and out the door without drinking 3 cups of coffee and psyching myself up for war?

I'll tell ya', I'm dreading fall and winter, which will involve seventeen more steps of dressing before we can go anywhere. That alone might be reason enough to move to a warmer climate. Mental note: talk to Hubs about moving.

ANyhoo...I promised some sewing so here we go:

I have a tendency to find a pattern I like and beat it to death, as in the case of a certain jumper, and this is no exception. Here we have 3 more sets of pajamas for Daughter. Left to right: blue broadcloth (cotton/poly blend) from stash, short sleeves, trimmed in green baby ric-rac; white 100% cotton tone-on-tone from stash, short sleeves, trimmed in pink baby ric-rac (thank you, April); and finally white flannel with tiny pink and green dots, long sleeves, no trim.

The two lightweight cotton sets are for summer, of course, and the flannel are for winter, to go with the Sesame Street ones I made a few weeks back. Sorry they are all wrinkly, but she has been wearing them, and the flannel ones were folded up and stuck on a shelf to wait for winter. I swear, I do press my stuff when I sew.

This is Butterick 3109, size 2. The only real change I made, besides adding trim, was to replace the buttons with snaps. My mom gave me her Dritz snap setting tool and whatever snaps she had laying around, so I used those. A word about the Dritz tool - if you look it up you will find many, many nasty reviews. I'm here to tell you that this tool is AWESOME, and I think the only reason people give it negative press is because it is very easy to use it incorrectly. If you take your time and really set it up properly, it will work fine. And it's much easier and safer than hammering the snaps in. My mom didn't have the back of the package anymore, so I had to look up instructions. Really good ones can be found here. I think I will look into using more snaps, including decorative ones, when I can get away with it. Much easier and quicker than making all those infernal buttonholes and sewing on buttons.

I've got a few more things finished or almost finished, just no photos right now...so there you go, a reason to come back tomorrow!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

dog days knitting

I've been working on a lot of behind-the-scenes knitting and sewing lately. It's nothing secret or anything like that...I've just been too lazy to get the camera out and document my stuff. You mean I have to get up off the couch? And go outside? And lay these things out? AND push a button? Eeeeeeeeeehhhhh....

Good heavens, look - I didn't even go outside and take advantage of the beautiful, cloud-diffused natural light. I'll be begging for a day like this in a few months when it's snowing.

I have been turning my thoughts to fall/winter stuff for Daughter. Here are the first of the socks I hope to make before it gets cold. Our house gets so stinking drafty in the winter it's like little house on the prairie...all bundled up in our long underwear and wool socks & sweaters.

These are made of Regia sock yarn - the very first sock yarn I ever bought. I still have the socks I made for myself, and I'm so pleased to finally be using the leftovers. There was plenty left on one skein for both of these socks.

I had no real pattern, just cast on 44 stitches, did 40 rounds in k2, p2 rib, turned the heel, and knitted the foot to 5.5 inches. Daughter is petite and has small feet for her age (she is 28 months and is just into a 6.5 shoe). They can be folded down in nicer weather, or pulled up straight on cold days or for going out. And they are both exactly the same size. The photo just looks distorted for some reason.

So sorry for the blurry photo here - I guess I was shaky when I took it. Or perhaps it's the effect of all the sand in the camera from our beach trips.

This is the Knitting Pure and Simple Baby Tunic (pattern #211), 24-month size. It used almost 3 full skeins of Cascade Sierra, but I made it a tad longer and made the hood a little bigger than called for. Daughter can still easily fit into the 24-month size in the chest, but she is tall so needs additional length.

And look at this wee button! My sis went to a yarn shop where she lives and picked out 3 little bags of buttons for me as part of my Christmas present last year. I know this little kitty doesn't exactly match, but the size is perfect and it's so cute...I am using it anyway. There are 3 more, so when Daughter outgrows this hoodie, I will cut off the button and use all 4 on something else.

The pattern also calls for a drawstring (indeed, there is a casing all around the hood that I sewed down), but my mom says they don't put drawstrings in children's clothing anymore because it's dangerous. I hadn't heard that, but it sounds reasonable, so I skipped the string and just went with the button.

Tomorrow: sewing projects!

Monday, August 13, 2007

making good on my promise

When Elizabeth died, we were given absolutely beautiful things for her to wear. The hospital has an extensive bereavement program, and along with a full set of professional photos, a memory box to hold everything, locks of hair and hand/foot prints, and a plaster casting of baby's feet, the family is given a handmade hat, booties, burial gown, and bonnet. She was, of course, buried in the gown and bonnet, but we have the knit hat, booties, and wee blanket. I can snuggle them when I am sad, knowing she was wrapped in them.

Last year I promised I would make some items for other families, to repay the kindness. My mom jumped in as well, and in honor of Beth's birthday, we are ready to send off a small package.

We have 6 wee hats, a wee blanket, and 4 pairs of tiny socks. It was desperately important to me that my baby's feet be covered, though I can't explain why. So I made these dainty socks in 4 different sizes, because, tragically, babies are stillborn at many different stages of pregnancy. To give you an idea of how small this stuff is, that blanket is 13" square.

How can those tiny socks possibly fit a baby?

These are the second smallest socks I made, along with the plaster impressions of my baby's feet. Heel to toe they measure about 2". Unless you have experienced it, you can't imagine how small a baby is at 31 weeks. So I am pretty sure someone will be able to use each of the sizes I made.

These will all be mailed to the hospital today. And I know I said this last year, but it bears repeating. If you are someone who likes to knit, crochet, or sew wee baby items and you are looking for a recipient of your work, please consider contacting a local hospital and asking about their bereavement program. It is an immeasurable comfort to a grieving family to know their baby is wrapped in beautiful handmade things.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13)

For those of you who have been following along, you know what this weekend is. It's hard to believe, but it has been one year since we lost our precious baby girl. Want to know something? I'm actually doing really great.

Yes, the date on the calendar means something, but I miss her every day, so there is no reason to wallow in sadness or self-pity today. Am I sad? Of course. But I have learned over a year of grieving to just work with the sadness, let it come, wash over me, and subside. If I feel tears coming on, I try to let them come and just get through the feelings without letting things get out of control. I don't fight the sadness, but I don't let it run the show either.

The past few days I've been trying to treat myself well. On Thursday I decided I needed to see pretty things, so I dragged my mom and Daughter to Joann's and picked out a few new fabrics for Daughter's fall and winter wardrobe. On Friday I looked in the mirror and thought, "who is that hag?!?" So I called up the girl who cuts my hair (who hollered at me for only coming in about twice a year) and had half my hair chopped off. Ah, much better. On Saturday I ran away from home during naptime, took several rockin' CDs with me in the car, blasted the music with the windows down and sang at the top of my (lousy) voice. I browsed AC Moore, Joann's (yes, again, what's wrong with that?), and hit Target for some new wee mary jane shoes for Daughter. It was a good day, and I even had nice, cheerful ladies wait on me at the Joann's cutting counter. A miracle!

Sunday morning we will go to mass, which is being said for Elizabeth, and Daughter will wear the cherry print dress I made for her earlier this summer with her new shoes. We will be meeting my parents there, and we will then all stay and participate in the annual chicken bbq at our church. I'd like to make it to the cemetary to visit my baby and bring her some flowers, but if we don't, we don't. It is not the end of the world if we go on a different day, because the day she died, the day she was born...it isn't the important thing. The imporant thing is that I was blessed to have this wee child spend her entire existence within my body. How amazing is that? That is what I am determined to focus on throughout the day and every day to come. I want to rejoice in her existence and celebrate her memory...not cry over what we feel we have lost.

So, friends, please don't worry about me, or feel sorry for me on this day. If you are prayerful, please offer up a prayer for my family, that we would continue to find peace on the path that has been chosen for us. And to those who have been sending along thoughtful gifts and good wishes, thank you. It means so much to me.

Friday, August 10, 2007


Hubs was away on business this week, so Daughter and I went and had an extended slumber party at my parents' house. They have central air, which we were happy to enjoy, and it was nice to have other people to help me out with my wee 2 year-old force of nature. 4 days alone with her might just have taken me down for good. I love her more than anything, but my word, how many tantrums can one mother bear?

Thing is, we left the house all sealed up in the roughly 90 degree temps. And while we were gone, something, uh, died. In my dining room wall. There is some serious decomposition going on and we can't find it. Now, as I've perhaps mentioned once or twice or twelve thousand times, we live in an old house in the boondocks, so we do get a mouse once in awhile. We've even had a couple pass on. But usually they do so right out in the open. This little bugger seems to have hidden in the freaking wall before meeting his end.

Oh, and our bedrooms are right off the dining room, so...mmmmmmm. You may commence feeling sorry for me now.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

away, kind of

Hello! Still alive and well over here, just on a mini-vacay of sorts. Back tomorrow or Friday with actual content.

Thursday, August 02, 2007


Have you ever gotten a phone call from someone saying that their grandma/great aunt/friend/co-worker has passed on and left behind a cache of crafting supplies? And that they would like you to come by and look through it for anything you might use before they donate the rest or put it at the curb?

And you have twelve heart attacks because, whoa, free craft stuff!

But then you try not to get your hopes up because it might just be a ziplock bag of tangled up old embroidery floss and a few partial skeins of red heart acrylic (nothing wrong with that, just not necessarily a treasure).

That is what happened to me yesterday. My mom called to say her friend's m-i-l had passed away and she left a lot of stuff behind. And her friend was going to donate it all unless we wanted it. Hoo-boy! LOOK AT THIS STUFF!

This photo does not do justice to the treasures we found. Though I felt terrible pawing through the knitting/embroidery supplies of a deceased person, my mom's friend just kept shoving things into my hands. We left behind more than we took - this elderly lady had been very, very big into angels and beading (her work was absolutely exquisite), and I'm not too interested in that style of stitching just now - and we still left with the backseat of the car filled with stuff. This photo is just my haul...Mom has her own big bag.

There are knitting and sewing books, needles in many sizes that I have been wanting to pick up, some lovely yarns including Galway wool and some Plymouth baby stuff, old Sew Beautiful magazines...and this:

This is one of two "Floss-Away" organizers, filled to the brim with brand new skeins of DMC floss, each in its own bag, numbered and organized.

This woman was on the ball. I can't imagine I'll ever have to buy floss again. For the record, I didn't dare ask to take these. My mom's friend said, "you'll take the floss, Kate!" and carried them to the car. How could I argue with that?

I did not take the gazillion pieces of aida cloth and linen she had, because I'm more interested in things like embroidering Daughter's clothes right now, which I told her. And then I mentioned I wanted to learn smocking. Her head snapped up and she said, "Oh! I have two pleaters upstairs! I made my daughter's first communion dress. Well, when I'm ready to go through that stuff, I'll call you."

And my head exploded.

Do you all know how much a good pleater costs? More than I have to spare, I can tell you that. And this woman could actually teach me how to use it!

One of my favorite finds was this yarn:

It is space dyed merino/cashmere blend in the most beautiful berry colors (by Punta Del Este). A scarf has been started but the needle was pulled - the pattern is kind of not so great, and maybe she figured that out and quit. I'll be ripping this and using it for something else...maybe a lacy scarf? Who knows, I might just fondle it for a long time till inspiration strikes.

Well, I would love to go roll around in all this bounty, and play with needles and threads and yarns, but the groceries will not put themselves away. Speaking of groceries, we are fortunate to have the most wonderful grocery store in the universe here in WNY, but the last two weeks when I have made my shopping trip, their air conditioning has been not so much working. Do you know how gross it is to get to the checkout with actual sweat running down from your armpits? Not fun, people. Not fun at all. And it is over 90 degrees outside, so you can imagine the situation, no? Ugh.