Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Lonely Socks Club

Once upon a time I knit a sock. He was a lovely creature with even stitches and bright striped yarn. He was a sock begging, yearning for a mate. This sock ached and dreamed and hoped and prayed. Yet no counterpart ever materialized.

Then, one day, this forlorn sock was banished to that despicable place; the lonely sock drawer. For two years he pined his days away; losing hope day by day, hour by hour and minute by minute. That is, until last Sunday, when he emerged from his chrysalis and transformed into a sweet toy dog.

He is no longer companionless. He now spends his time snuggled next a child, enveloped in her sticky hands and drug around by the ear. In other words he will live happily ever after.

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If you, too, would like to change the life of a lonely sock you can find a tutorial here. Thanks to the Little Black Tea Pot we can transform these sad creatures one sock at a time!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

On Tranquility

"The more tranquil a man becomes, the greater is his success, his influence, his power for good. Calmness of mind is one of the beautiful jewels of wisdom."
~James Allen

It's early Sunday morning. I'm sitting in my reading chair, legs stretched out on the ottoman and facing the front windows. Outside small birds flit about snacking on the bird feeder (I count six). One of my cats sits on the chair across from me. Occasionally she chatters gutturally. Clearly she sees the birds.

My husband and son have already left for the day. The Boy has a water polo tournament the next town over. Middle is still sleeping and Little slept at a friend's house. This moment is mine. This tranquility is mine.

As you can see from the photos above our week was full. Picnics and flea markets*, book club meetings and music lessons, dinners and desserts. All wonderful events that kept time ticking at an accelerated pace.

We've got additional plans this afternoon and this evening. Team gatherings and a barbeque with friends. But before that happens I'm going to take this time and just be still. To sit and reflect. To enjoy the birds, the quiet and the solitude. To solidify in my mind how truly blessed I am.

I hope your weekend is as full.


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* Peculiar Momma Vintage went to her first flea market as a vendor. There are more photos here on our Facebook Fan Page.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Our Calendar 2011

I have an oversized calendar hanging in the kitchen (the hub and heart of our home). It contains photographs from the previous year -- images reflecting moments in our lives, whether that be a bouquet of home grown flowers or a family outing. I use decorative pens to record family events and activities. Somehow the upcoming orthodontist appointment seems a bit less foreboding when written in glittery purple ink.

Each month, as the calendar turns, I am reminded of how truly blessed we are. These photographs reveal the glory present in each and every day. I am reminded to open my eyes and see the beauty that surrounds me.

Right now Lulu.com is having a sale. So, of course I had to take advantage and make next year's calendar now. Enter the code Sunset305 to receive 25% off calendars and photobooks; good through August 31st. You can see our new calendar below. If you are so inclined it is available for purchase. After all -- it's never too early to start thinking about the holidays.

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Monday, August 23, 2010

Make it Monday -- Vintage Sheet Head Scarf

I'm growing my hair out. This means I haven't gotten a proper haircut in six months. The bangs have been trimmed over the bathroom sink; otherwise nada. Now my hair is in that horrific -- gee, even if you are growing your hair out, you could really use a trim and a style phase.

I fully intend to get to the hairdresser soon. Really I do. I need a haircut, an eyebrow wax and a pedicure; the whole nine yards. But until then I'm going for the cover-up. Only it's too hot out for knit hats or pageboy caps. So I stitched up this head scarf from a vintage sheet.

Don't you love my model? I dare say she's adorable!

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Things I'm loving today:
  • My last night on shift for a few days
  • An upcoming book club meeting with the ladies
  • The pyrex bowls and patterns and tchotckes waiting to be listed in the shop
  • Our new coffee table (as my 10-year-old daughter says, "It ties the whole room together")
  • Our first flea market venture next weekend (Peculiar Momma and Papa Abe are going to be vendors)

Things I'm hoping for today:
  • A clean house when I arrive home tomorrow
  • A cat nap
  • Continued Etsy sales (already at 20 -- yay!)
  • Quiet Mama time
  • Time to sew
I hope you all had a wonderful start to your week -- Happy Monday!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Garage Sale Finds

This morning my lovely co-worker bought me a mocha (thanks Jenny!). The caffeine did it's job and when I arrived home I was not at all tired. So instead of sleeping off the night shift we hit the garage sale circuit. Am I ever grateful we did!

The first find? A new coffee table; new to us that is. It has a lovely chocolate hue and has just the enough wear along the edge to call it shabby chic. We've been without a coffee table for almost a year and this is the perfect addition. The best part? Fifteen dollars. Yipee!

The next treasure was a set of three sumptuous blue mason jars. They make such alluring vases and, honestly, the scent of the butterfly bush flower resting in them? Heavenly! Pure love on my new table.

And finally this adorable ceramic mushroom is the perfect fall piece to tie the whole thing together.

Now my living room is a bit more grown up and the caffeine has worn off. Outside a gentle breeze is blowing. Our windows are thrown open and there is a sweet crispness to the air. The aspen leaves are fluttering and a lawn mower hums in the distance. I do believe it is the perfect time for a nap.

For now, adieu. I hope you, too, are having a delightful weekend!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Frugal Friday -- Web Roundup Edition

Flowers from my garden

My mind is a flutter with a bazillion projects; projects with an eye towards frugality. But, alas, none of the ideas are my own. Nevertheless I want to share them with you. And so today, Frugal Friday, I thought I'd do a little web round-up. And here they are, in no particular order:

and, finally,
Tell me -- what frugal tricks are you up to?

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Thursday, August 19, 2010

What I Want

Sewing Machine

I don't often talk about work here. It's a touchy subject. Veterinary medicine has gotten expensive. And yet veterinarians are not walking around with wads of cash in their pockets. You see the cost of running a business is also quite expense. We have to pay for leaseholds and utilities, medical equipment and supplies, employee wages, continuing education, licensing fees, etc, etc. And, in order to stay in business, in order to be there in the middle of the night, we must charge for our services.

This doesn't sit well with some people. And I understand. Believe you me I know times are tough. I know money is tight. I know. Oh how we wish we didn't have to charge. If only we could provide free service to all. But we can't.

Now some folks will apologize for their financial state. Some will shut down and simply not talk. And then there are those who are flat out rude.

One frequent comment is "... well if I'd known it'd cost that much I just've taken 'ol Fido here into the backyard and shot him in the head." Now here I just smile politely and say that I don't recommend that particular route of treatment. A different commentary is simultaneously running through my head.

Another frequent comment is "... hell. This costs more than the emergency room." Meaning, of course, human medicine. Sometimes it's hard to keep my mouth shut. I've been to the human emergency room with my husband, my daughters, my son and myself. I've seen the bills. I've paid the bills. I will tell you emphatically our services are a fraction of the cost of human medicine.

And, finally, "... I can git me a new dog from in front that there Walmart. Why'd I want to pay to fix this here mongrel?" Why indeed? A question worth asking is "do you want a dog or do you want this dog." (Which, by the way, is how I've ended up with my menagerie of pets -- turns out if you don't want your dog (or cat or bird) I may just take him home).

And this is a very long segue into want I really want to talk about. My new to me sewing machine. The relevance will be seen shortly (I hope).

Recently I found a steal of a deal at a garage sale. A 1971 Janome New Home Sewing Machine (similar to one pictured above). She was missing a bobbin and needed a new needle but otherwise seemed to be functional. I brought her home and with one of my bobbins and needles got her running -- sort of. She placed a few stitches and then stopped.

Well as much as I'd like to know everything about everything I do not. And so, today, I took her to a sewing machine repair shop for expert advice. My husband came along for muscular (that machine is HEAVY) and, as it turns out, moral support.

It seems the check in gal at the shop does not have an appreciation for vintage machines. "Do you know," she said with disdain, " this machine blue books at $14.50?"

I stared at her blankly.

And your point is?

"I just want you to know you'll be putting more money into this machine that you'll ever get out of it."

"That's okay," I said sweetly, "I'm not planning on selling this machine. I plan to use it."

"Well," she asked, "What kind of machine are you using now?"

"A very basic, inexpensive machine." I replied

"You might find," she retorted, "that with a newer machine you wouldn't be frustrated and might actually enjoy the process of sewing."

Who said I was frustrated? Who said I didn't enjoy sewing?

And then she got to her real point. "We can always trade this one in towards the purchase of a new machine."

Now if I wasn't at the one and only repair shop in this small town I would have grabbed my machine and stormed out. Rather I would have made the hubbie grab the machine and storm out (heavy people, seriously heavy). But I didn't know where else to go.

Fortunately Mr. Peculiar chimed in. "We really like this machine. It's got beautiful clean lines similar to a vintage car. The colors are gorgeous. Plus we don't believe in simply throwing things into the landfill just because they are old. My wife and I feel sewing is an art, an old art, and how better to sew than on an older machine?"

It was the check-in lady's turn to stare blankly.

Finally she said with a little tsk tsk, "all right, whatever the customer wants."

And it is indeed what I want. For the price I'm paying to potentially fix up this machine (fingers crossed) I can not buy a new one.

And truth be told I don't want a new machine. I want that machine.

Just because something is inexpensive (or free) doesn't mean it doesn't have value. It might be easier to start over. To get a new dog. To get a new machine. But that's not what I want.

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TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth; 5
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same, 10
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back. 15
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

~ Robert Frost

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Joys of Camping

We're back. What a lovely five days spent fishing and knitting and reading and watching the stars. Oh the stars! One forgets how bright they shine. We also introduced the kids to one of my alma maters (Go Cougs!) and puttered around on horseback. And we drove and drove and drove admiring the farms of Eastern Oregon.

What I wouldn't give for a little homestead, with a red barn, a lovely red barn, tucked up against the Eagle Cap Wilderness. We'd have chickens, of course, and some goats. Perhaps a horse or two. Oh how glorious that'd be.

But for now we are home. We've two weeks until school starts though water polo has already begun. There's shopping to do. Clothes and supplies to buy. Appointments to keep and general business ahead. Thank goodness for these brief respites from our busy lives!

I've processed some photos of our trip with more to come. But first sleep. Sweet sleep in my very own bed.

Good night and sleep tight!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

So much I need and want to do!

I'm finally done with the big work stint (not done working mind you but done working extra shifts). As such I'm feeling creative again. My mind is running a million miles an hour and there are so many things I want to do ... make more shirred scarves (see above), sew an apron and pajama pants, put together some I spy bags, bake scones, embroider, knit and, of course, photograph.

There's only one problem (well really two). You see we're getting ready for a road trip and this house, this poor poor house, needs tending to. Before any trip we go on a whirlwind cleaning tour. First off I don't want the folks caring for our house to run away in fear. Second -- no one likes returning to disaster. So today has been spent scrubbing toilets, cleaning mirrors, doing dishes and laundry and, finally, tackling that forlorn kitchen floor.

This year's vacation is humble -- we're camping out. The five of us tucked away in the wilderness; no television, no telephone, no internet. We're bring books and crosswords and jacks, knitting and embroidery, hiking boots and cameras, fishing poles and swimsuits and, of course, mosquito spray. It should be lovely -- that is once we're packed and on the road. As such I'd best get back to my chores. I can't wait to show you my vacation pictures! See you in a few.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Checking it twice

I'm muddling my way through my to do list. As you can see the lavender has been picked and jam has been canned. Additionally I finished knitting a pumpkin hat and did practice my chanter a bit.

Have I mopped the floors? Oh heavens no! How could I when there is so much else to do? So much else joyful and fun. I've also yet to sew curtains or set up the tent or finish the baby gift. But I did find time to create a shirred scarf (photos pending) and stumble upon a spectacular new sewing machine (a vintage Janome New Home). Five bucks I tell you. Five. She's mint green and white and just so pretty. I can't wait to photograph her.

She seems to run well but is missing a bobbin holder. I really hope she works because my old plastic model is hanging by a thread (pun fully intended).

This new gal is heavy -- really really heavy! Ideally I'd like to find a sewing table and reclaim the kitchen for, you know, the preparing and consuming of food.

I must admit I'm fully mired in autumn fantasies. Autumn brings football, crunchy leaves, crisp evenings and an active kitchen -- scones, pies, stews and chili. This year autumn also brings the promise of time. All three kids will be in school. Mama will have an opportunity to commune with herself -- to read, to write, to practice, to clean and to create. Ah! Doesn't it sound delicious?

In the meantime I'll continue muddling through; making lists, checking them twice and enjoying the moments as they come. Summer, after all, is pretty darn good especially with fall to follow.

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Thursday, August 5, 2010

It's all a matter of luck, or is it?

This morning, on my way home from work, I was listening to NPR. On came this story about a grad student who had uncanny knack for finding four-leaf clovers. The absolute best part of the story was when the student said (regarding four-leafed clovers);

"I think most people don't look. That's the interesting thing. It's like if you see somebody who is lucky or in someway seems that luck is this random thing that's streaming through that some people intercept and, you know, other people just don't. But I guess I think it's a little bit more like the people themselves are actually engaging or intercepting that luck."

Her point being -- if you want luck you must engage. You must look for it, recognize it and metabolize it. She has an excellent point. One well taken.

As such I decided to engage and look for my own luck. You see, we have clover. Lots and lots of clover. On any typical morning I step over this leafy green with a wisp of disdain, all the while avoiding dog doo and other yardly gifts. But not today. This morning I plopped myself down on the sidewalk, still in my scrubs, and began to examine the groundcover.

I'm sure my neighbors thought I was crazy. You know, she's been working too hard, it was the last straw, the whole nine yards. If I'd stayed on the sidewalk too long the men would have been called. The ones with the white coats. They would have been summoned to take me away. But that did not happen. Because shortly after I sat down I found something.

That's right. A precious stem with four sweet leaves. My very own four-leaf clover. How many days had I been stepping over luck? Ignoring her. Admonishing her. Being mildly embarrassed by her. And there she was all along. Waiting for me to open my eyes and see.

And the question remains -- what other opportunities sit before me, right in front of my face, that I simply can't (or don't) see? Indeed it is a good question.

Now this clover, this sweet gal, is too precious to keep to myself. She's been safely tucked into a library book and is in wait. Waiting to bring luck to an unsuspecting library patron. Today I found luck and today I'm passing her on.

"Luck affects everything; let your hook always be cast; in the stream where you least expect it, there will be a fish."
~ Ovid

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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

To Do

This afternoon I've had a to do list running through my head. Rather than scratch it out on the back of an envelope I thought I'd share with you.

To Do:
  1. Pick lavender and hang to dry (dreaming of lavender sachets to accompany holiday gifts)
  2. Make a batch of apricot riesling jam (again perfect for the holidays)
  3. Make blueberry pies in jars and freeze for a later date (hostess gifts)
  4. Complete another baby gift set for the shop
  5. Mop the kitchen floors (this one is long overdue)
  6. Practice my bagpipe chanter (still dreaming of a set of pipes)
  7. Put up our tent in the front yard and see if we have all the parts (we're going camping, camping, camping!)
  8. Finishing knitting a pumpkin hat (autumn really is just around the corner)
  9. Sew curtains for our trailer
  10. Begin embroidering a second pillowcase to match this one.
Tell me. What do you have to do?

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Monday, August 2, 2010

Summer Bliss

Swimming lessons are a requisite part of summer. Typically we start lessons as soon as school gets out. But not this year. This year we put them off. That is until today.

What took so long?!! Sitting in the bleachers -- watching my goggle clad daughters scoot about the pool -- pure bliss!

After lessons we hit the children's swim area. This year things are easier. My kids are older and I can let down my guard. Don't get me wrong -- I'm still a lifeguard at heart* -- but my kids can stand in the pool. They can swim. I even brought my knitting and a book. Granted I didn't dig into this bag of goodies but I could have.

I love watching all the people at the pool -- young and old, fit and not so fit, women with beautiful pregnant bellies and papas with babies. Me? I forgot my sunscreen and therefore stayed in shorts and a long sleeved blouse -- a bit of a fish out of water. Tomorrow, hopefully, I'll remember sunblock and swim laps. It's about time I got back into the swing of things.

After swimming we went to the store. Tonight we're making ceviche. You see my husband and son went albacore fishing this weekend. Now we are up to our ears in fresh tuna. It'll be all tuna all the time - at least for a while. Fortunately a lot of it is vacuumed packed and frozen. Now if I can just figure out what to do with it all.

While at the store I happened across fresh apricots -- on sale. I couldn't resist. It looks like tonight I'll be making some jam. So, dear family and friends, be prepared -- this year we'll be gifting you with eggs, tuna and jam. Mmmm. Mmmmm. Sounds excellent, eh?

Today, finally, it feels like summer is finally in full swing. It's only just begun and soon will be over. I suppose I'd best enjoy it while it lasts. I hope you, too, are enjoying the little moments.

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* I really was a lifeguard - from age 16 to 23. This kind of training stays in your blood -- I'm constantly scanning the pool -- back and forth, up and down, repeat and repeat again. Oh and it takes everything in my soul not to yell out "NO RUNNING!" Yup. Pool marm. That's me. ☺