Tuesday, June 29, 2010

ToT: Summer Reading

I wrote up the beginning of this list and then read Carole's list and realized we are looking forward to a couple of the same books. What do you want to read?

1. Mama Day - Gloria Naylor's novel about a small island full of deep, long and mystical tradition. I can read this one over and over again.
2. To Kill a Mockingbird - Best required reading in high school (though I read it for the first time in middle school)
3. The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake - Looks like an interesting book per NPR review
4. My Year of Meats - Not sure if I really loved this book the first time and it might be too heavy for summer reading
5. Cosmo Magazine - frivolous, but fun to read and comment on such ridiculous commentary and advice
6. Tale of Two Cities - or some other Dickens Fiction
7. Humor Me: An eclectic anthology of Funny - looks light enough and would hopefully brighten a heavy, humid day
8. The Boy Book - little sister mentioned it, seemed entertaining enough
9. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings - always recommended, might finally read it
10. The Chosen - another great "required reading" book from high school

Monday, June 28, 2010

I'm going to be an Aunt!

Tradition: babies and blankets

This story is what I think to be the truth, the facts could be wrong, but such facts will not affect the actual story and tradition

All of my mom’s kids (except the last one) received a baby quilt from my grandmother. Mine was blue and white and it had an eyelet edging. I thought I had it somewhere, but it might still be at my mom’s house.
When my little sister was born I wanted to make something but as you will see below my sewing skills leave much to be desired. My mom, being the genius that she is, gave me a blanket that was all made up and just needed an edge. I think she gave two pieces of flannel to a friend and the friend added little eyelets along the perimeter. I then took the blanket and a ball of variegated crochet cotton over to “Oregon Grandma’s” house (story on this woman later). Oregon Grandma then taught me how to do a lovely crocheted edging anchored through the eyelets in the blanket. This blanket was my entire contribution to warming my baby sister.

I don’t recall it ever becoming a special blanket in any way, but she was given so many gifts that I don’t think any of them became her special blanket. There is nothing wrong with this. While I love the sentimentality of my own baby blanket I don’t think there is any need for a blanket to be anything more than a blanket.

When I found out that my older sister was expecting I knew I would make a blanket along with a few knitted hats, mitts and maybe even a sweater. So when I was home for my dad’s birthday I rifled through some fabric that my mom had. I tried to choose colors that were generic and a pattern that I just sort of made up out of half square triangles. I put it all together and quilted it. In the end the colors seem a touch girly to me and the quilting is pretty sad, but I am not going to rip out or redo anything. I had a fantastic time working with my baby sister to decide on the exact layout and pattern arrangements and see no need to destroy the evidence of such a good time

Positive things about the quilt:

My piecing has shown MAJOR improvement and my ¼” seams were relatively consistent. I love that the quilt has a center block that is different from the other 8. I also adore the edging pattern created with leftover half-square triangle blocks. The binding has pretty decent mitered corners (for my first attempt at such a thing). The pieced back is probably my favorite part of the whole thing. The blocks that were quilted with straight lines instead of free motion craziness actually turned out quite nice.

Negative things:
The free motion quilting was awful. I think some of this can be attributed to using a machine with no table so it was just a small area to really hold onto the quilt with any real pressure. Most of the wonkiness is really just my bad quilting skills. I didn’t do a real binding I just pulled the backing fabric around and tacked it down by hand. It looks ok, but will not wear as well as a real binding

Even with bad quilting some of the blocks have a very specific theme or story that will hopefully make sense when my sister sees it in person for the first time.

While I don’t particularly hope this becomes a baby blanket that is passed down for generations, I do hope that it fulfills the purpose in which it was created: to keep a baby warm.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Random Life Hilarity

Tradition: Sillyness


I sent my husband the link to an article about his favorite band  with the following statement:

My favorite magazine of all time features your favorite band of all time. This might result in the end of the universe as we know it

His oh so witty response?

only if you start drinking coffee and I become a knitter

People who can have that sort of conversation with me tend to be my very best friends. I guess that is one of the reasons we are married, our ability to be utterly ridiculous, funny and truthful in 3 short sentences.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Tourist Traps

Tradition: Outdoor Adventure
I grew up in a gorgeous state with an interesting climate. The part of the state that I lived in is consistently green and grey. Two thirds of the state is a desert with hot, dry air. My homeland is full of amazing, palpable light and the flora is ever green and ever growing. The excess of water in the valley makes the natural landscape bloom and leaf year round. The excess of water comes from the slow, drizzly, daily Willamette (pronounce Will Am Ehtt not will-uh-met-ee) rain. Summers are gloriously perfect, with sporadic days that are too hot or too chilly, but normally sunny and not too humid. There are exceptions to this summer description and apparently 2010 is one of those exceptions. It is late in arriving and the perfect 70-80s temperatures are fleeting.

One thing I notice about the landscape out there is the lack of soupy, shoe sucking mud. The mud is firm and it still makes a mess, but the texture is completely different than the mud found after a heavy, steady downpour (also known as spring in the northeast). This means that as long as heavy rain (as opposed to normal, grey drizzle) is not forecasted you can enjoy the outdoors most of the year. There is a very tall waterfall just east of Portland, Oregon: Multnomah Falls (I have no idea why it is plural, there is really only 1 big waterfall). Multnomah is a year round waterfall and it falls roughly 620 ft, making it the second tallest year round fall in the US. The park, which is free, includes a relatively short -1.25 miles- paved trail from the bottom to the top of the fall. The close proximity to a major city and the non-existent parking and admission costs makes this a common tourist stop, for people traveling through the state and also for those visiting their friends and family in Oregon. There are large groups consistently getting in one another’s way on the bridge, and generally pretending to enjoy the beauty before them.

I was tasked with driving my older sister to the airport and realized that driving home would mean rush hour traffic on a highway. I decided, instead to grab my mom’s camera and continue eastward after dropping her off. That is how I found myself in a gorgeous tourist trap last Monday. I headed there thinking I would just go up to the bridge and breathe in the mist from the fall and be done. Then I was on the bridge and felt compressed and generally uncomfortable so I figured, the hike is short enough, I can handle a quick jaunt up Larch Mountain. I walked over the bridge and continued on.

While I had my mom’s amazing camera, I did not have her amazing photography skills so my pictures did very little to capture the atmosphere than engulfed me as I walked up the paved path. It was a harsh incline for those of us used to walking on flat sidewalks every day, but there were plenty of people in less than ideal hiking shoes and clothing (including one couple in flip-flops dragging an adorable little girl along for the torture adventure) and they all traversed the path pretty easy, if uncomfortably.

There is a spot a couple of switchbacks after this picture was taken with a little bench facing the fall, it's one of the last places on the trail where you can still see the fall. there was someone there, but my heart longed to sit, contemplate and soak in Oregon surrounding me. I left my soul on that bench and my heart aches to return and retrieve the untouchable.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

10 on Tuesday

Normally I do not participate in Ten on Tuesday, but the topic this week was just too much fun to ignore
I have to put my traditional spin on it so I’m rephrasing the topic

Tradition: Bedtime Stories
Here is an incomplete list of some of my bedtime stories as a kid. Some were read to me, some read by me, but all are fantastic works of literature

1) 3 Princes of Serendip – Persian fairy tale of three princes and Sri Lanka (serendip) My dad always emphasized how the princes *NOTICE* things. One of the few stories I remember lasting more than 1 bedtime.

2) Oh the places you’ll go – Motivational and typical graduation present, but for me it’s more than that. My dad still sprinkles conversations with lines from this book. Dad always added our name to the final page. It would go like this:

So…be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray or Britt or Mordecai Ale Van Allen O’Shea, you’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!

3) The MONSTER at the End of this Book Starring Lovable, Furry Old Grover – One of only two books that I think of in my mother’s voice. I’m sure dad read this to us as well, but when I read it myself I hear my mom. Did you know it is an eBook now?

4) Dictionary – Yes, I did have a kids dictionary and yes, I did like it as my bedtime story. I was a fan of words and we even checked off the words when I knew what they meant. I shared a room with my older sister and she was not a fan of my choice in bedtime story.

5) Charlotte’s web – Wonderful prose, this was also the first chapter book I ever read and it started my obsession with pigs (hence pigbook1)

6) Grandma’s Poetry – My father’s grandmother wrote poetry and at some point the family had some of her poems made into a book. I remember memorizing a poem of hers for a presentation in fourth grade. The poem was about seasons, maybe just winter, but I specifically remember the imagery of a symphony of icicles. I’ll have to look at that poem next time I’m home

7) Madeline – I always pictured Madeline as looking like my little sister. Not sure why, maybe it was hair color

8) Little Bear

9) Lady Lovely Locks - when we played make believe my older sister often played the part of the pretty protagonist and I played some other not as gorgeous character. When we played lady lovely locks I always thought I was getting away with cheating because Duchess Ravenwaves (antagonist) was so much prettier than Lady Lovely Locks (protagonist). I'm sure my opinion of the characters came directly from the illustrations in the golden book.

10) Love You Forever - Second of the two books I hear in my mom’s voice. Since I am now a grownup (HA!) I have heard that some people find this book weird or creepy, but I still find it endearing.

Thursday, June 3, 2010


Tradition: Family Scarves


My parents and 3 of my sisters have scarves made by me specifically for them. I'm not sure who wears theirs the most often but I would venture the list in order from most to least used is
sister 3
tied for never: the rest

Sister 2 (Kinna) recently requested a bright pink slouchy scarf that she could wrap and wrap around. I am hesitant to make anything else for her since she doesn't wear the scarf I made her, but she supposedly wears the socks so hopefully this is a worthwhile risk. I immediately knew I would use hand dyed sock yarn and make an infinity or circle scarf. Then I remembered that Cat Bordi had a youtube video showing how to cast on for a Möbius scarf and I knew that must be what I make. My plan may very well backfire, but so far I have accomplished the following

1) Cast on an entire circular needle full of stitches using Cat's Möbius method

2) Knit stockinette for what feels like an eternity

3) Added a second ball of yarn and continue stockinette

It is now 7 inches wide, unblocked and the scarf looks like a contracted sea anemone

General Info:
Möbius Strip
Sereknity Yarn and Fiber (colorway Floozy)