Tuesday, July 26, 2011

living in an alternate reality

In the past week, we have spent much time in the alternate reality that is a hospital.   I don't want to dwell too much on the details here, we have shared much of those through emails and calls with family and friends, but my mother-in-law has been in an ICU with a serious illness that came on very suddenly and is still little understood.  Thankfully she seems to be responding to treatment thus far.

In the many hours of time in waiting rooms over the past few days, I have had plenty of time to think.  Hospitals truly are a unique environment, especially around the ICU.  Time has much less and night blur as activity happens round the clock.  Visiting at 1 am or 5 am seems as normal as mid-afternoon. Time sometimes seems to go by very slowly, and other times rushes by.  We learned quickly that very little activity, being told "no change", and progress that is slow enough to make a snail look like a sprinter, is actually preferable to any sign of rapid activity or major change, which is almost always bad.  We are learning to love the boring days for the slow progress that is afforded by them.

The human side of this alternate reality is strange as well...people who are brought close by loved ones who are suffering, many people in waiting areas who do not look each other in the eye for fear of what they might see there, an insular world where it seems nothing is happening beyond the hospital walls.  Weather, world events, daily routines at home all seem meaningless there.  All focus is on our loved one, and while we can do nothing to help but be there by her side, it is enough. 

At the end of the day when we come out of the hospital, blink in the sunshine and head home, we re-enter our normal world, realizing that it is just a bit more fragile than we thought.  I hug my husband a little tighter, and wrap my arms around my children, trying to give them just a little more love. 

( I may be more absent from this blog over the next week than usual, but hope to return to more regular posting soon.  Take care....Katie)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

summer fun:: hoop-a-loop

Since the kids were small(er), hula hoops have been called "hoop-a-loops" around here, thanks to an episode of Special Agent Oso, where they first heard the term! A few weeks ago we saw children's folk singer, Elizabeth Mitchell's video of How to Make a Hula Hoop (on SouleMama's wonderful blog).  And an idea was born!

Today it is ridiculously hot. So in the mid-day, when we really couldn't bear to be outside, off we went to the Home Depot to get our supplies.  The nice guy working in the plumbing department, I have to give him credit. He didn't so much as blink or smirk when I told him we were looking to make hula hoops! And he helped us pick out the right pipe (not too flexible, not too expensive!) and connectors. Here we are with all our supplies:
PEX 3/4" pipe (8-10' per hoop), brass connectors, pipe cutter (didn't work so well--have hack-saw on standby!), electrical tape for decoration (very important!). Cut pipe to length (10' for adult/large kid, a foot or two smaller for littler ones). Soak pipe ends in very hot water for a minute to expand so pipe connector can be pushed in.  Seal connection with electrical tape, and decorate with colored tape. Hula hoop!

One of the best things about a home-made hula hoop is that these are bigger, and a bit heavier, than our "dollar store" version.  This makes it MUCH easier to hula hoop! The kiddos were quite impressed at mom's "hoop-a-loop" prowess.  But I can't do it at all with our store-bought hoops.


It helps to stick out your tongue...
Happy hoop-a-loop-ing!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

create:: mermaid dress

Here is the latest in my summer of the sewing machine! This type of sundress is easy, fun and quick to make...I made several for her and for me last summer, but this is the first for this year.  The shirring (gathering) at the top of the dress is done easily with elastic thread in the bobbin (regular spool on top).  And who can resist adorable mermaid fabric (found at my local Joann's)?  Just right for the 100 degree weather we are having!

(...and now, off to spend as much of the rest of today as I possibly can in the pool...)

Monday, July 18, 2011

summer fun:: at the lake

We've just returned from a week "at the lake"...Kerr Lake, NC.  What a blessing to have in-laws who welcome us to share their summer home when we can.  There is nothing more relaxing than no schedule... other than to swim, boat, tube, sit on the shore and watch the others do all these read, knit, and to nap when the impulse hits.

My bliss: The smell of sunscreen. The lake in its many moods, sometimes smooth as glass, sometimes choppy and rough. More bluebirds than I have ever seen in one place.  Kids laughter, over and over.  Bliss, pure bliss. 

Here's a glimpse of us in one of our favorite summer places.


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

garden recipes: : chocolate zucchini bread

This is about the unhealthiest way to eat zucchini that I have ever made. But each loaf does have 1 full cup of shredded zucchini in it!  I couldn't resist trying "Selma's Chocolate Zucchini Bread" when I found the recipe in Knitscene Magazine, Summer 2011. It is rich, and chocolatey and has just enough cinnamon to give it a little zing. Yummmmmmy!

Monday, July 11, 2011

garden journal 7.11.11

The garden is growing like gangbusters. Amazing how sunshine and soil and water can transform a handful of tiny seeds into these gargantuan plants. We are almost to the end of the lettuce, and a recent deluge did some damage there, but everything else is just coming in. Well, except the beans. These beans seem to have been of the "Jack and the beanstalk" variety:  vines that are reaching for the sky, outgrowing my trellises and not seeming to care! However...we have NO BEANS.  Not one blossom, not one tiny bean. Anyone who knows why, please tell me! They are amazing to look at though.  

Actually, there is one bean. My daughter brought home a little lima bean plant, sprouted in a wet paper towel in a baggie at school this spring. So we lovingly tucked it in beside all these beans. These bean-less beans. And low and behold, this little school project bean plant has grown a bean! And has another bloom, to boot.

We are starting some of our other harvest:  one nice zucchini (see below), and two cherry tomatoes were ripe enough to be picked. Lots of roma tomatoes are getting big but still green...I'm dreaming of salsa and sauce.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

summer fun:: fireman's carnival

There is something about the carnival that says "Summer" to me. It's one of those events that we look forward to every year, and a million reasons why we love it:
  • funnel cake with lots of powdered sugar
  • neon lights coming on as the sun goes down
  • smiles on virtually everyone's faces there from babies to grandparents
  • going on the ferris wheel and getting the birds-eye view
  • watching the kids run frantically from ride to ride
  • smelling the cookout from the Firehouse auxillary
  • going down the giant slide with my kids
  • mostly, just getting to be a kid again!

Hope you enjoy our carnival as much as we did last night!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

create:: summer blouse

This has been the summer of the sewing machine, as far as my own personal crafting goes. There's been a bit of knitting, and a few other things in the works, but by far, the sewing machine has been busiest. This blouse should be perfect for church this summer, or a dinner out; its light and breezy, and the print makes me happy. Its Simplicity 2418, for those who are interested in such details.  The pattern is one that is called "Its so easy it's Simplicity", which I will say is a bit of overkill...the directions for the back yoke were not well written and as such it was a bit "fiddly" and there was some action with the seam ripper...yes...but in the end, with a tiny bit of improvisation to make what I'd done turn into what they wanted, it finished quite well.  And it was a quick sew, just a few hours stolen over several nap-times, which is how I like projects to go.

More to come:  a dress for the girlie is in the works, as well as something fun for the little guy's bedroom....from there, who knows?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

summer fun:: patriotic tie-dye

I can't imagine how, in my many years of scouting, and crafting, but I don't remember having ever made the ubiquitous tie-dye t-shirt....until now! In honor of Independence Day, all four of us got busy tie-dying this past Saturday morning.  Kids dressed in garbage bags, and hubby and I in our grubbiest clothes, we set to work.  I decided that a two color pattern was an easy way to try this, not get too complicated (and end up with mud brown), and to look patriotic in and blue it was.  We used the Tulip Ultimate Tie-Dye Kit, and the squirt bottles made it relatively mess-free and so easy! Each of us chose patterns based on the pamphlet in the kit and on the article I had saved from Family Fun Magazine (from Aug, 2008).
Be prepared if you try tie-dying: this is not an instant gratification process with this kit.  After dying our shirts, we had to leave them "tied" up for 6-8 hours for the colors to set, then wash and dry them.  But the results were worth it! We are all excited to try this again soon, with more colors, more shirts. We will have a hip and groovy 70's family wardrobe by the end of the summer!
the family that tie-dyes together...

waiting for the parade

And just because there was more to our July 4th celebration than our T-shirts, here are a few other photos:

backyard parading

The cookies were a hit! I found the cookie cutter last week at Sur la Table (kitchen-stuff store) and couldn't resist.  I cheated with a store-bought cookie-dough mix, then glazed them with a thin-icing glaze. Hooray for the Fourth of July!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

create:: the sweater

About 2 months after I started knitting last year, I decided to start a sweater. I kept reading things about knitting like "its all just knit and purl stitches", and figured, why not start a big project?  Ambitious and a little crazy, I cast on the lovely tea leaves cardigan, after seeing Amanda Soule's gorgeous version on her blog.  14 months later, it is finally done, with a lot of other (smaller) knitting done in the meantime. While pictures of a wool sweater are not exactly typical for early July, I can't resist showing it turned out just as I had hoped.   And now, on this 90 degree day, I will go carefully fold it and store it for a chilly fall day in a few months!