Tuesday, July 27, 2010

ToT: Things to do Instead of Watching TV

Let me start by saying that I love television. I do, there are some hilarious and mind-stretching things on TV. I like the funny, the mindless, and the mind-stretching but you don't normally find it all on the same show.

Onto the list!

1.See a Play -  if you like performances go watch a play or opera or concert. Shakespeare on the Common is putting on Othello this year. I think I shall go sometime in the next two weeks. I encourage you to go as well.
2. Move - We are still running, but I have taken to pulling out the yoga mat on my non-running days. Building strength and increasing flexibility are my goal, but yours may be different. Work on them, it's worth it.
3. Enjoy your house - Really enjoy it. Sit in your favorite spot or sit in you backyard or your pool or something, but really enjoy this investment that you have made
4. Get some ice cream - Take a drive, get some ice cream and steal a taste from your neighbor's cone (Jim is a sharer)
5. Laundry - for only having 2 people we produce a very large amount of laundry and I could do at least 1 load a day and hanging it all up to dry is time consuming, and it is usually time i would spend in front of the TV
6. Other chores - Mopping, sweeping, vacuuming, dusting, washing the car all of those annoying chores that we save for the weekend CAN be accomplished during the week if we want to step away from our more fun tasks (like watching the 5th baseball game of the week)
7. Read - How is your caterpillar?
8. Sew - I can knit while watching TV, but my sewing machine is too loud/in the way to really enjoy TV while sewing
9. Get to know - Get to know your friends, neighbors, or your own family. My neighbors don't typically get together to really get to know one another. Until this summer I didn't even know their names. I should invite them over for drinks some evening or something. They are always on their porch anyways.
10 Silence, if there is such a thing - Turn off the noise making appliances in your house. Close the computer, turn off the radio and notice the noise around you. How many different bird songs can you hear? Can you identify the cars that drive down your street? Do you know who drives the loud one? Do you KNOW your surroundings?

My caterpillar:
Reading has slowed a bit with other things filling my time, but I have a couple to add
8) The Five People You Meet in Heaven, Mitch Albom - sappy, not as great as people made it out to be but short and simple reading that reminds you that life is important
9) The Trial, Jen Bryant - book written for children/pre-teens? about the trial of a man accused of kidnapping the Lindbergh baby. The book is written entirely in poems which made it kind of fun to read

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Good Side, Bad Side

Tradition: Black and White
Story:
I live in a black and white world. There are no grey areas, just those that need further clarification. Once I have specific details and perform a cause/consequence analysis everything becomes black and white for me. This makes decisions obvious, but tedious.

A great side effect of my way of thinking is that people/creatures are either good or bad. I treat all people with respect, but my true opinion is either positive or negative. It is a glorious thing always knowing where I stand. I always have an opinion (though it is subject to change at any moment)

Who has had the pleasure of living with this black/white, love/hate, positive/negative personality of mine?  My husband. He’s remained mostly on the love/positive side, but he hears much about my opinions of other creatures, events, etc. What does he hear the most about during the summer? Dennis, the woodchuck in the backyard.


Dennis first showed up sometime last year and nibbled the grass, clover and other random stuff in our back yard. He never went near my garden. So, with is adorable cuteness he was on the good list. Then he ate my tulips and moved instantaneously to the bad list. Using some male urine we kept him from consuming more tulips and he romped around the yard doing no damage and he slowly crept back to the good list.



Over a week ago we saw him nibbling around the patio(flower) garden. He was cute and lovable and he has tiny ears just like me. He sniffed the flowers, but only ate the weeds so he solidly remained on the good list.
Imagine my surprise when a little tunnel appeared under my vegetable garden gate. Inside we found squash and cucumbers nibbled right down to the stem. Leaves were crushed, munched and generally destroyed. WHOOOOSH bad list again.


When Jim and I left for a short jaunt to CT at the beginning of the week we tried blocking the gate to prevent further destruction. Unfortunately in our enthusiasm we stacked something just high enough that Dennis could HOP THE FENCE. The little punk massacred the cucumbers, ate a few more squash and to make matters worse he picked a TOMATO! Something must be done.


Some cement has been laid and yet again we are using more urine around the perimeter hoping that will inhibit Dennis’s desires, we also hope it prevent his wrestling buddy from joining the garden eating party.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Panzanella

Tradition: Yumm
Story: I saw a recipe for Panzanella awhile back and it sounded delicious. Then I made the Anadama bread from the Bread Baker's Apprentice cookbook. I saw a match made in heaven. Anadama bread has some cornmeal in it that adds a slight bite or grit to the bread which makes it perfect for soaking up flavors, but maintaining a bread texture. Unfortunately I made the bread well before any vegetables were mature. I just stuck the second loaf in the freezer and waited for vegetables to mature.

Last night our vegetable bowl was overflowing with garden goodness so it was time!

My serving was too small!


DELICIOUS! Even Jim said the flavor was good. I wanted to eat the entire, giant, family-sized bowl. I would only change 1 or two things if I made it again. I'd add summer squash and I'd have a bit more dressing (if I'm eating right away, if I'm making it for later the dressing probably doesn't need adjusted) so I've adjusted my recipe to reflect more vegetables and more dressing.

Panzanella (basically a combo of leftover garden veges and bread):

loaf of bread
2 or 3 cucumbers, peeled
a bell pepper
2 big tomatoes or a couple handfuls of cherry tomatoes
1 summer squash or zucchini, peeled
Any other veges you want to add
basil
garlic
dijon mustard
red wine vinegar
olive oil

Cut the bread and vegetables into cubes/cube-like shapes. Lightly toast the bread (or leave out uncovered for a couple hours) You don’t want croutons, but you want it dry-ish.
combine bread and vegetables
Take the leaves off of 2 handfuls of basil, chop, add to vege mixture

Make dressing with finely chopped garlic, 2 T mustard, 1/2 C vinegar and drizzle in 1 cup oil whisk
That should be way more than enough dressing so use about half or 2/3 and toss before adding more

eat right away or let it sit for an hour to really get the flavor going. the bread should still have a bready texture, but be a touch soggy/wet.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Books

Tradition: Reading Books
Story:

I don’t know where the idea came from school, my parents, or some other source, but what I do know is that I made a caterpillar. This caterpillar was constructed on my wall out of hundreds of construction paper circles. Each circle contained the name of a book that I had read, beginning to end. I don’t recall when the caterpillar started or ended, but I’m guessing it’s beginning was well before I reached the pinnacle of childhood reading - the chapter book. I added the name of each book to a circle and then grabbed the roll of masking tape, ripped off a small piece, rolled it into a cylinder and stuck it to the back of the caterpillar section. I then placed the circle on the wall touching the last caterpillar circle. I wish I had a picture of that caterpillar it was such an accomplishment.

I wonder if this caterpillar reflected the change in my reading skills? Did the list start at picture books and move through Charlotte’s Web and Babysitter’s club? I know what it did not reflect. Iit never reflected my reaction to the book. You couldn’t tell that I read the Boxcar Children books and found them too quick a read to bother with. The caterpillar definitely didn’t reveal that I read The Hatchet only because I was jealous that my older sister’s teacher assigned it to her, but no one assigned it to me. The fact that I was a year behind my sister in school never satisfied my desire to be at her level. My caterpillar held the clues, but not the secrets of the books I read. There are plenty of things the caterpillar was not, but there is one thing it definitely was: A record of my first hobby, my most welcoming hobby.

I leave reading for a long stretches of time. I avoid it, ignore book reviews, clubs and all things relating to literature, and then it strikes. I think the spark this time came while I was on vacation. I picked my second favorite book off my parents’ bookshelf (where I left it for my mom to read). I didn’t finish it while I was home, but when I got home I couldn’t stop thinking about books. In the last two weeks I hit up the used book store 3 times and the big box book store once. I will prevent myself from starting a new caterpillar on my wall. I don’t think construction paper really fits with the decorating themes in my house, but I might start listing the books and a quick recommendation read/don't read from time to time here on the blog. I’m calling the feature “my caterpillar”

1. Mama Day, Gloria Naylor – Definitely recommend
2. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee – Please read
3. A Mercy, Toni Morrison – Leave it
4. The Women of Brewster Place, Gloria Naylor – Read it Cautiously
5. The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake Aimee Bender – Read it even if it is a strange one
6. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Mary Ann Shaffer and Anny Barrows –Read it
7. The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison – Blech, not a fan

What’s segments have you added to your caterpillar?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

10 on Tuesday

10 Things You Like About Where You Live

1. My garden(s) – they will never impress anyone with immense beauty or ingenuity, but I love them. I visit them every day when I get home from work and if mosquitoes weren’t such a nuisance I would eat in them daily as well.

2. Seasons – Sometimes this is good, other times bad, but today we will focus on the positive. Where I live has four definite seasons. Spring (rainy, cold) Summer (hot, humid) Fall (more rain, moving to cold) Winter (death) which makes it easy to notice the time passing before me.

3. My neighborhood – it’s nice, generally well kept and full of people but it isn’t loud and there are very few occasions for me to curse my neighbors

4. Restaurants – I am very close to a major US city and that means that when I have a million dollars I can try a new restaurant whenever I want and rarely be disappointed

5. History – Being in MA means there are more than enough historical sites to keep a person busy

6. Graveyards – I love graveyards, really old graveyards with thin headstones decorated in carvings that make no sense. There are zillions of them around here and I love to walk around and see the awkward skull with wings or random animal depicted in slate.

7. Leaves – supposedly the only people that go leaf peeping are the lovely retired couples who haven’t left for florida yet and ME! I love leaf peeping. The colors are amazing and I can peep leaves from a car, on a hike, on the train but I have my favorites. I love to get lost in New England with my husband. We drive around with no real destination and I gaze out the window loving the oranges, reds, yellows and brown that paint across the forests

8. Dennis – Sunday Dennis stole my heart. My lovely groundhog came scampering out from under the shed. He waddled over to my flower garden and starded nibbling on all sorts of weeds. Then he smelled the flowers, but apparently found them revolting and went back to nibbling on the weeds. He stood up a couple of times to look around all adorable like. Then he heard me standing on the deck and he bounded away with my heart hanging on his cute little tail.

9. Museums – Boston has some great museums, but there are also some pretty nifty ones outside the city limits. Eric Carle and Normal Rockwell both have museums in western Mass dedicated to their art. One of these days I will make it to both of them

10. Plays/Ballets/Operas/Concerts – There is always a good concert to attend in or near Boston (I’ll be attending one next week) but my favorite are the plays, ballets and operas that consume the theatre district. Shakespeare on the common never disappoints and the Nutcracker ballet is my winter classic.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Quick Review

I recently received a tube of lashBlastfusion mascara in the mail.*

I am not a makeup wearer. I value my sleep and prefer to stay in bed 5 minutes longer rather than do my makeup. I do try to get prettied up at least once a week either for a date or for church or just for kicks. Do you know how embarrassing it is to throw makeup away because it expires instead of when it runs out? Who does that? Me.
So when I was offered the chance to review makeup I figure I'm pretty qualified because something has to be pretty impressive if I am willing to wear it more than one day a week. So here's my opinion-

It is thin and when applied it is very wet. The good thing about this is that there are no clumps, no turantula lashes. It also means you are not going to super dramatic eye lashes. So if you are looking for super drama look elsewhere.
I think this is perfect for those who are going for the natural look, but need a little boost. My lashes look longer, but not fake. My favorite part of this mascara? The brush. It is not a spiral of bristles, but rather a network of little silicone spikes. I think the thinness and brush make for the perfect non-clumping application.

All in all it's nice and next time I'm in the market for mascara I will reach for this option, but I probably won't be buying any new stuff until this expires or dries up and I wouldn't recomend it to someone looking for EXTREME LASHES

*I'm a bzzagent through bzzagent.com so I got a free tube, and no other compensation for my opinion

Culture

Tradition: Art
Story:

My dad (yes, my parents are the root of many of my traditions) is a fan of art. He wasn't in charge of decorating or I'm sure my family would have roughly 12 million art prints on our walls. Thankfully he exposed us to all varieties of art from painting to collage to sculptures. One of his favorite things to do is go on a local safari taking pictures at distinctive places around the towns where I grew up. Some really funky sculptures, statues and functional art exist in the Portland area and I love getting pictures of my sisters balancing on an oddly shaped bike rack or some other random art my dad finds.



When my husband emailed me about the Museums on Us program I was overjoyed. Since we both have plastic distributed by BoA there was no hesitation on my part to take full advantage. A free visit to a museum was in order and since it is summer I thought we should visit something outdoors and enjoy a picnic as well. DeCordova in Lincoln, MA fit the bill and I made plans for last weekend. We packed simple sandwiches, crackers and water bottles and headed out to look at sculptures.



Some of them were awesome, some of them were weird and some of them made me question the curators' definition of art, but it was a fun experience and Jim was in a goofy mood which always makes me giggle. We didn't make it to everything, but we did go inside the museum where there is a room carpeted in fabric. The pictures I have don't do it justice so I suggest you go see it for yourself. The walls had streamers of leaves and birds created with handmade paper. There was a tree in the middle created out of small pieces of wood puzzle-pieced together to add an amazing texture and color to a basic column


I'm not sure I can drag Jim to a traditional museum like the MFA, but DeCordova was fun and all of the walking meant I didn't have to go for a run that night. I do encourage anyone with some BoA plastic to take advantage of the program there are museums all over the country and it's a great way to spend a Saturday without spending money.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Scarf Complete

Back aways I wrote about the cowl/scarf I was making my sister. That didn't happen. Well, I guess technically it happened, I knit two skeins of sock yarn into a stockinette loop, but I hated it. So before I went back to Oregon for vacation I frogged the whole thing and started a lace ribbon scarf. Again I knit two skeins of yarn into a scarf that is entirely too long, but that's what I was going for.
Now I just have to mail it out to Kinna and she can take a picture of herself wearing it, for now a pic of me wearing it will have to do


I LOVE this yarn. I like it more for scarves than I do for socks even. The color isn't showing up quite right in my picture, but it is bright pink with some orange muddled throughout. I love it. Sereknity Sock Options Shimmer (Merino and Bamboo) in colorway floozy 

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Ten on Tuesday: How to enjoy summer

1. Read a book, perhaps one from the Ten on Tuesday entries from last week?
2. Smell the flowers. I like to walk down to the little perennial garden that Jim has made around our patio and examine the plants. Smell them and dream of a world where growing flowers uses less effort
3. Notice the butterflies and the bees. Bees are a small point of annoyance in my marriage. I desperately want a hive in my backyard if only to know that the bees are busy pollinating for me. So why the annoyance? Jim is allergic so there is no chance of me ever having bees. Butterflies make my day. I can spot a butterfly far away and watch it flutter around my yard as long as she sticks around. I love butterflies
4. Grow a vegetable. The idea that we grow a couple of tomato plants and maybe a pepper or two has evolved into a 12+ raised bed garden. We grow lots of things and while Jim is doing most of the work these days I enjoy a moment or two messing around in the dirt and examining the ripening fruits
5. Take a hike. I know there are plenty of hikes nearby and I'm hoping we can go at least once a month and get some nature time. Jim and I love a hike that involves lots of plants, but not a ton of uphills because I'm a pretty big baby when it comes to uphill hikes
6. Pick some fruit - I picked many pounds of strawberries, raspberries, cherries and blackberries when I was a kid. In the northwest berries flourish and I miss the ease of access (and the low price) of NW berries
7. Do something with that fruit - I like to make freezer jam out of strawberries, raspberries and blackberries. I do NOT like canned jam, it ruins the flavor of the fruit and I prefer my jam to taste like berries and not jam. There is no store bought jam that can compare to freezer jam, but there are plenty of store bought jams that can compare to homemade canned jams.
8. Play with water As kids we ran through the sprinkler but as an adult I prefer to accomplish something so we wash the cars or water the garden and if someone happens to get sprayed in the process all the more fun
9. Build a castle - the beach is an easy place to spend a summer day, but I often find beaches too sandy for knitting and rather than get bored I do something. A castle made of sand filled buckets, shells and sticks always fills that time, plus it's a great excuse to start a sand fight with Jim
10. Take a day off. There is no reason that your summer has to be completely full every day. Take a day, relax and figure out what it is you love about the place you live.