27 April 2016

April Days

This is a mouse-making, flower-planting, book-reading, trip preparing kind of week.  I am getting ready for Addie's 10th birthday before our vacation to the beach, as we return the night before her Mother's Day birthday.   It's hard to believe our girl is turning 10.  

Most of the porch flowerpots have been planted.  Front porches here are Serious Business, with nearly every house in our area having one.  Ours is deep and very private, thanks to a tree planted right at the corner, which increases our porch time--we can hang out there in robes and nobody can see us.  I ordered a new rug and a double-wide rocker that hasn't arrived yet and bought a few massive hanging baskets from Caiden's water polo team (Now that's a much more useful fundraiser than selling raffle tickets!) that should be delivered while I'm in Mexico.  Memorial Day bunting for the railing is next on the list.  I love getting the porch ready for summer.  We spend most of our morning and evening hours out there once it's warm enough.

I have to finish stitching a tiny pair of green Wellies for Hazel Mouse, write notes for my mother who's keeping the kids all next week, return late-as-usual library books, and bake a coconut cake for Addie to keep frozen at my mother's while we're gone.  Also on the list:  take lots of walks down lilac-scented paths before the blossoms drop, get Caiden ready for his Seattle weekend at a water polo tournament, and make the hard decision of which books to take on my trip.

21 April 2016

I Simply Obey

My interests never seem to line up with the calendar.  It's beautiful outside, much warmer and sunnier than typical April here, and I should be outside planting containers and mulching beds.

Instead I'm making a little woodland creature (mouse) for Addie's upcoming big birthday and getting ready to hand quilt my gigantic summer quilt.

Maybe if I take these project out to the porch to work on, I'll get inspired to plant something.  Who knows; these whims have a mind of their own, and I simply obey.

15 April 2016

Salad Every Night

My kids eat salad every night, and this is how we do it:

I make the same salad every single night, with no variation--Romaine lettuce chopped small, a generous handful of shredded mozzarella cheese, a sprinkle of mineral salt, a crank of pepper.  This is salad for picky people, also known as Salad Requiring No Chopping, which is easy on me.  (I cut the lettuce with kitchen shears.)

Anybody who wants a dinner roll has to eat salad first, and I usually serve it before anything else,  while we're all still very hungry.  You can have whatever dressing you want on it.  Ranch?  Fine.  Caesar?  Fine.  I don't care, as long as you eat the salad.  Sarah Grace and Addie now eat salad in mass quantities, and even formerly-lettuce-shunning Caiden empties his bowl without a complaint.

At the end of dinner, we cover whatever's left in the big bowl and put it back in the fridge.  The next day, I dump another few handfuls of Romaine in, toss it, and serve again.   It's like Mary Poppins' bag; it never runs out.

14 April 2016

On Doing It All

I've been thinking about the notion of "doing it all."  The Internet has given us great opportunities to share what we do with others, but there's a serious downside--we can only see what others have done, and not what they haven't.    If I see somebody who apparently writes books, produces a beautiful and active blog, homeschools her children, and runs half marathons, I suddenly feel like, "What on earth am I doing?"  Because I assume that she's doing all those things as well as cleaning her own house, making dinner every night, running carpools to sports activities, reading good books, writing her grandmother faithfully every week, and getting enough sleep.

But of course, when we are rational, we realize nobody does it all.  Nobody can do it all, and anytime we say yes to one thing, we say no to others.  Obviously.

Yesterday I started piecing my summer quilt at the kitchen table while Addie hand-sewed her crazy creations next to me, Sarah Grace danced in only underwear in the family room, and the boys did whatever it is they do in the basement when I'm not looking.  (Generally that involves Nerf guns or typing me notes asking me to do things I never say yes to.)

Here's what I didn't do:  finish geography or dictation with the kids, clean the kitchen, or fold the laundry that was languishing in the dryer.   At this stage in my life, I often have to choose between the things I need to do and the things I want to do because there's simply not time for both.  As a result, I had a nice big stack of pieced rectangles yesterday afternoon, but I forgot to make a salad to go with dinner, and the house was sort of a wreck.  I'm okay with that sometimes, as long as I keep in mind that anytime I choose a "want to do," the next day I'd better choose the "need to do," or everything will all fall apart.  It's a dance, and having realistic expectations keeps the music going.

10 April 2016

Even the Cat Agrees

The nicest thing about a white matelasse for a bedspread (besides the obvious benefit of matching any color decor I choose) is that it's the perfect backdrop for quilt blocks.  Look!  It even looks like quilting on the pretend white blocks!  Perfect.

I have loved the idea of a summer quilt in red, white and blue, for a very long time.  Every year I say I'm going to make it, and every year I can't land on a design I like.

I'm very picky about my quilts--they have to have a certain feel, very scrappy and with lots of white space and as little fabric in the same collection as possible.  Zero matchy-matchy.  Do you remember those "bed-in-a-bag" bedding sets that used to be really popular in the 90s?  Where the bedspread, shams, and comforter were all in the same fabric with maybe a coordinating pillowcase and window valance?  I remember them very clearly because my college dorm room was decorated with one, and it was lovely then, but that was 1994, and I like to think I've grown in my tastes.  If you know what I'm saying.  (If you love bed-in-a-bag decorating, forget I said anything.)

If it can truly be a scrap quilt made with vintage block designs and fabric I already have, so's the better.  So the other day when I spotted the "Churn Dash" quilt on the cover of some quilting magazine at the grocery store, it was like a heavenly revelation, and I think I sort of shouted, "That's it!" and snatched the magazine and brought it home to show my husband and boys, who care exactly 0% although they feebly tried to say otherwise.  Which is why I'm telling you, instead.

I pulled all the red, blue, and cream fabric I have off my shelves and started cutting, a block here and a block there over the last week or so.  I hate cutting fabric and am slightly terrible at it, so it's always like pulling teeth for me to get it all done.  Add to it that I'm increasing the size of this quilt from 60"x72" to something rather larger, so I need a lot of blocks.  I haven't bought the white yet, hence the matelasse backdrop, to see how these things fit together.  The finished quilt isn't actually for my room, although I can see that I may change my mind quickly once it's done.

I already love it.

The point of all of this is that when you see the right thing, whatever it is, but especially if it's a book or quilt pattern or shoes, you must throw caution to the wind and start it.  (Or buy it, if it's shoes.) Do not tell yourself that you don't actually have time for this, because that's irrelevant.  Nobody ever made a beautiful, scrappy, cheerful summer quilt to take naps in, and wished she'd used that time to grade papers or wash dishes or pay the bills instead.  Nobody.

And obviously, the cat agrees, which is good, since he's the one who actually uses our quilts the most, anyway.  Smart cat.