April 30, 2011

Observing History

Thirty years ago, something woke me up in the middle of the night. When I went downstairs to investigate, I found my mom watching the wedding of Prince Charles and Princess Diana. Amazingly, she didn't send me back to bed, and we watched the live broadcast in the middle of the California night. I was 6 years old.

Caitlyn is well-trained to sleep through a lot, so I didn't wait for her to wake up on her own, but collected her from her bed shortly after 2am our time Friday morning to watch the live stream of Prince William's wedding to Catherine Middleton. We talked a bit about modern monarchies; I'm not sure she's ready to believe me that there might be more to it than fancy clothes and horse-drawn carriages. Not that the wedding would have countered the notion.

I've always remembered watching Charles and Di's wedding, even if I don't remember many of the details. I hope I've gifted Caitlyn with a similar sort of memory, one of watching a moment in history, of a fairy-tale come to life.

April 29, 2011

Finishing Things

Sometime when I was in elementary school (I think), I received a latch-hook rug kit as a gift, probably from my grandparents. It's a unicorn with a rainbow background, and it's oh-so-80s. Like many of the projects I worked on then, I liked doing the details, changing colors frequently and filling in small spaces. When it was time to do the background, interest flagged. The project was tucked away and forgotten.

It resurfaced sometime after Caitlyn was born, discovered during one of Mom's excavation projects. She finished that neglected background and brought it up to us, and I tucked it away under my work table.

But this time, I didn't forget about it! And yesterday evening, I handed Caitlyn a completed pillow, made from extra curtain fabric, latch-hook unicorn on the front, and stuffed with fabric scraps.

latch-hook unicorn rug... from the 80s!

It's heavy (due to the fabric scrap stuffing) and scratchy, but Caitlyn rearranged her bed so that she could sleep on this newest addition.

After probably, 25 years, this project is finally finished!

April 27, 2011

I can haz asparagus?

It's the return of the Columbia City Farmers' Market! (Which probably means it will rain this afternoon). I'm so, so, so hoping there is asparagus. Not sure yet what I'll do with it - quiche, Spanish tortilla, cooked with a little garlic, tossed with a cream sauce over noodles - but, please, let there be asparagus.

asparagus in the p-patch

Because I have to wait two more years before I can harvest any of this. That's 2013, folks, before I can cut and eat any of the asparagus I grow myself. I have to visit it in the p-patch and drool and keep my hands in my pockets.

If there's no asparagus, maybe I'll get some rhubarb (since my rhubarb plant is also too young to harvest)... not like we need another dessert around here, what with leftover birthday tiramisu and peanut butter cookies, but I may not be able to stop the rhubarb crisp.

April 25, 2011

Caitlyn's Easter Bunny

I went through a phase when I was about 13 or 14 when I made stuffed animals. I was taking a sewing class as an elective in junior high and somehow there were these kits you could order: "fur", plastic eyes, stuffing, instructions. I made at least three of them: a cat, a turtle, and a parrot. I never did figure out how to not get the fur caught in the seams, so they all look a little weird, soft and fuzzy except where the fabric pieces come together.

And then I finished the class, went on to high school, and didn't make a stuffed animal again for years. I've made a couple of patchwork bears in the last decade or so, but they hardly count since you can't play with them (the limbs are not sturdily attached, a flaw, really, when you are giving the bear to a baby). But mostly I've sworn off the animal-making, since the fur always got caught in the seams. There's probably a secret club out there of people who know how to sew pieces of faux fur together and not have the result look like a poodle-shaving session gone very wrong.

Sorry, what was I talking about?

A few months back, I ran into one of TipNut's lists, one about bunny projects. There are some seriously cute bunnies on that page, but one just jumped off the page at me, reminding me so much of The Velveteen Rabbit that I read Caitlyn the story that night for bedtime (yes, it still makes me cry).

It wasn't enough. This bunny needed to come live here.

Caitlyn's new bunny

(As an added bonus, I've added Hazelnuts to my list of things I like to read. I like to think we'd go for coffee sometime if she didn't live in New Zealand. Our girls should be pen-pals or something.)

I'm pleased to say that I finished the bunny a week before Easter. Caitlyn told me yesterday that I didn't hide it very well.

Caitlyn's new bunny

When I explained that I had made it because it reminded me of The Velveteen Rabbit, she named it Velveteen. Which sounds so much nicer than Felt, if you ask me.

(In other rabbit news, the kids across the alley brought me a newborn rabbit this afternoon, concerned it was being abandoned by it's mama and asking for "replacement kitten milk". After explaining that I didn't have any (Wasabi being adult, male and neutered), I looked up "newborn rabbit care" for them. Turns out rabbit mamas don't curl up with their babies to keep them warm and only nurse for a very short period at infrequent intervals. I advised the kids to put the newborn in a box with a towel or rags (mama had been alone in a cage before giving birth (the humans unaware she was pregnant) and was unable to make a proper nest), make sure the mama knew it was there, and then let nature take its course. Hooray for Rabbit.org!)

April 23, 2011

The Birthday Gnome

birthday gnome

He's moved into my kitchen window, and he makes me smile.

Thanks, Mom!

April 22, 2011

Finally, Some Spring!

The sun came out today. It actually got warm. Spring may finally come to the Northwest.

cherry blossoms
The cherry tree is blooming nicely. Hopefully some of these will turn into cherries that I get to eat before the birds find them all.

daisies in the lawn
It's time to cut the grass in the back yard, but these little daisies are just so happy, I can't quite bring myself to do it. Need to, though - the established grass is shading the new growth. Although, maybe I shouldn't on the grounds that the new seedlings will need less supplemental water if they are shaded...

buds on the apple tree
The apple tree always flowers last.

blueberry flowers
Blueberry flowers. Mmmm... sun-warmed blueberries on my morning granola.

These are the new pansies planted in the front yard. Because they make me happy.

April 18, 2011

Spring Rabbits

Well, I was going to post some pictures of the bunny that Caitlyn will be discovering outside her bedroom door on Easter, but apparently I didn't manage to take any decent pictures today. I think I might have been a bit too enraptured by the sunshine, since I put the bunny directly in said sunshine, ending up with photos simultaneously too bright and too dark.

If the sun comes back in the next day or so, I'll try again.

Today was the first day of Caitlyn's spring break, and she did a lot of coloring. The marble run and the train tracks came out, but I think she mostly put the marbles into things ("Mama, come see how full this car is!"). She also tied her yoga ball to her bum with a long scarf and made her own hippity-hop, then proceeded to nearly fall down the stairs two or three times.

We walked to the library ("Do we have to walk???"), discussed the simple machine nature of screws while assembling a small shelf unit, and discovered that she's too tall to stand up underneath the plant shelf in the sunroom. She wrote out the labels (I spelled the words for her) for the newly reorganized craft and project supply boxes, something I hope will help her remember what goes where when it's time to clean up. And she got to visit the rabbits next door, of which, I believe, there are now 12, seeing as they breed, well, like rabbits.

a busy bunny

From this angle, he's a rather intimidating critter...

April 16, 2011

Kids' Clothes Week Challenge

One thing that is on my list of Things to Do with Caitlyn over Spring Break is to go through her closet. Time to set aside the things she has outgrown (all her pants, I think) and make a list of things she needs (shorts and t-shirts, probably). Someday, the sun will come out and it will get above 50 degrees and she'll want to wear summery things without 15 layers underneath.

Conveniently, I discovered that elsie marley is hosting the spring 2011 edition of Kids' Clothes Week.

I've got fabric on hand for a dress and at least 2 skirts for Caitlyn. And since I'm apparently feeling ambitious, I think I may use this as reason to finally figure out how to sew with knits. Five years ago, I converted some old onesies into t-shirts, but the hem came out all all stretched out and wobbly - not bad when she was 18 months old but probably less popular now. I'm thinking basic t-shirts to get started. Anyone got any favorite links for how to work with knits without a serger?

April 15, 2011

April 12, 2011

Getting Greener

It's the second sunny day in a row and I've spent parts of both days puttering in the garden(s). I've given up on growing foxgloves from seed and have finally just bought potted foxgloves and planted them in front of the front fence, with a couple of pansies. With any luck, they'll fill in (maybe if I don't plant the seeds but let them do it on their own I'll get a whole row of foxgloves). Not sure how I'll keep the neighborhood kids from grabbing the flower stalks and beating each other with them...

The backyard is all cleaned up. I've built up the lawn space and added more Eco-Turf seed, relocated a lavender and a rhubarb, pruned the potato vine and the jasmine, tied up the clematis, pulled out the winter's weeds and cut out the winter kill. The peas are about 2 inches tall, but with a much better germination rate this year. Still waiting for the carrots and spinach to appear. The seed potatoes are all planted, after putting out tiny leaf buds and shriveling rather badly on the window sill. It's just not been as warm this spring as last year (we had blueberry leaves and cherry blossoms by the middle of March last year; not so much this year) and the sunroom hasn't been as greenhouse-y as it can be.

Out in the p-patch, there are some fat asparagus spears emerging. Two more years and I can actually harvest some! The garlic is about a foot tall, and I put in the first batch of onion starts this morning.

I'm thinking I won't bother with a cover crop next winter, after cutting down this past winter's cover crop with a machete and then turning it over with a shovel. One of those hand rototillers (spikey wheels on a handle) would have made the process so much easier, and probably would have broken down the greens better. I've got blades of rye sticking out of the soil, and the roots will probably mostly figure out that they are just upside down and proceed to make more grass. At this point, it's not a cover crop so much as a potential weed. And, it's a bit psychologically challenging to plant seeds and watch them grow, then basically murder the plants before they've done all they want to do. Feels like a bait and switch.

So, while it's good to know how to improve my soil with a nitrogen fixing cover crop, I'm thinking that as long as it's not absolutely necessary to do it the long, labor-intensive way, I'll just stick with a few bags of purchased organic compost every year. Same results, less work.

April 11, 2011

Moving Out

My tree has a new home!

the Norfolk Island Pine on moving day

I contacted a nursery, malls, the local Boys & Girls Club, friends at Microsoft. I posted to our local parents email list and the Seattle freecycle group. But in the end it was the landscape service providers for our neighborhood who had a space tall enough for a 12 foot tree.

the Norfolk Island Pine on moving day

So late last week, on a day with rain (despite being forecast otherwise), this beloved family member moved out. The Tree has been launched into a new life, out of the nest.

moving The Tree

Impact Property Services, our neighborhood's landscape services company, has an office just up the road. There's an atrium for the lobby with lots of windows and an extra tall ceiling. The Tree is joining two other overly tall houseplants as part of the lobby decor. Not only does The Tree have a new home, it has a job.

the Norfolk Island Pine on moving day

Special thanks to Eric for finding The Tree a home, to Jim for taking over its care and providing the transportation, and to Kevin for doing the heavy lifting.

the Norfolk Island Pine on moving day

I'm beyond relieved that I didn't have to sacrifice The Tree to the city compost system. The idea of deliberately killing it made me a bit sick. It's been part of my life for so very, very long. After caring for it, repotting it several times, moving it from home to home, and decorating it for Christmas one year (which was very weird-looking!), sending it to its doom would have broken my heart. But now, not only does The Tree have a new, tall home, but I can take Caitlyn to visit it this summer. Sort of like an elder sibling, off at college. I'm so pleased. Thank you, Impact.

April 08, 2011

Waiting for Summer

Caitlyn's new sunhat
Last summer we discovered (with hardly any surprise) that the sun hat I bought for Caitlyn from the Point Defiance Zoo at least three years ago was too small. She immediately requested a big floppy sun hat like mine.

Caitlyn's new sunhat
I used a pattern from Amy Butler. Completely coincidentally, Caitlyn picked an Amy Butler fabric for the exterior.

This new hat fits her exactly right now. Should have made a medium.

Caitlyn's new sunhat
I think she likes it. Now, we just have to figure out how to keep it on her head.

April 07, 2011

A new first

Caitlyn does homework

Caitlyn brought home a packet of homework from school yesterday: ten pages of number writing practice, with space to draw a picture of what each number means.

She sat at her table (as opposed to lying on her belly on the floor or sitting on her bed) and used a pencil (as opposed to markers or crayons) for the numbers and did the whole thing, all at once, without prompting.

It's a first, and I know it won't last.

The first page had no drawing (for zero) and for the last several she wrote out a word the proper number of times; across these four pages she sent a message to her teacher: "I love you, Mrs. D."

April 05, 2011

Things that Make me Happy Today

  • Baby eagles
  • having everything in it's proper place
  • hidden object adventure games with Caitlyn (we just finished Treasure Seekers on the iPad)
  • being told by a client to give myself a raise
  • the possibility of peanut butter cookies
  • realizing (again!) the importance of flow
  • this list of 10 important things to remember when being creative (especially item #2: "Don't wait til you know who you are to make things")
  • remembering I can put boxes under the iron board to elevate it to a reasonable working height
  • finishing something (pictures to come, should the sun ever come out again)
  • starting something?

April 03, 2011

My New Surrogate Cow

I haven't made cheese or yogurt yet with it, but I think I may have found a replacement milk! Golden Glen stopped producing bottled milk back in January and I've been searching for a comparable substitute, or at least hoping one would materialize for me.

PCC replaced Golden Glen pretty quickly with Straus, although I did have a week or two with Organic Valley's paper cartons. Organic Valley's milk, though, is ultra-pasteurized. Straus' isn't, and the milk comes in glass bottles, but it comes from California - which works great when I'm visiting California, but it's a bit far for every day. Pure Eire is local, but it comes in plastic jugs, which I've discovered are difficult for me to put in the cart. Sure, I can do it, but there's a voice in my head that screams the whole time.

Fresh Breeze, with whom I've swapped some lovely emails and who has started bottling in glass, was the dairy Golden Glen recommended as a replacement source. But they've only been picked up by Whole Foods as far as I can tell, and Whole Foods is the natural market that's farthest away for us. I called PCC to let them know and talked with some very helpful folks, but they seemed to think they would be staying with Straus for the time being ("Straus really wants to make this relationship work.") It wasn't ideal for me, but I'd muddle along.

Then I stopped in at Madison Market on the way home from somewhere else. They are carrying milk from Twin Brook Creamery. The dairy is local (Lyndon, WA), raises exclusively Jersey cows (seriously yummy milk!), uses no hormones, does not homogenize, only lightly pasteurizes, and bottles in glass. So happy! I have a replacement cow! Thank you, Madison Market.

Next up, time to start making this year's cheese...