Monthly Archives: October 2010

Fall fun

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Yesterday I finished crocheting a sweater I started last fall.  I was pregnant, and I was pretty sure the style of this cardigan would work hanging open over a baby bump.  The further I got on the sweater, though, the bigger my belly got, and I finally decided it was going to look stupid and I quit.  It was fun to pull it out this fall, though, a nearly-finished sweater, and just complete it and wear it.  I haven’t blocked it yet, and I definitely think blocking will help the shape a bit, but I’m still really pleased with it. The wool is nice and warm, too, so even though today was chilly I felt comfortably warm out in the air but not overly bundled inside the car and house.  The pattern is available here, though I didn’t follow it exactly.

Today I wore my new sweater on a lovely walk down Hillcrest Avenue in Louisville, a pretty street in any season, but particularly nice before Halloween.  The street has become known locally as a Halloween destination, with many of the homes decorating exuberantly.  We’ve taken walks down Hillcrest on sunny mornings before Halloween each year since Dorothy has been old enough to care, and it’s become a fun tradition.  Some of the decorations could be gruesome (especially for my small ones) by night but are funny and interesting by day.

This caterpillar drawing came home from school with Dorothy recently.  Her class focused on caterpillars and butterflies for a while, which included artistic representations of both.  This cheery caterpillar drawing of hers has totally stolen my heart.  I want to do something special with it but can’t decide what.  Maybe have it put on a Sigg bottle?  Or a t-shirt for her cousin for Christmas?  Or a mouse pad for myself?

Weekend pictures

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Another fun, busy weekend!  I finished this hat before we left for an overnight camping trip, to take to a 5-year-old birthday party when we returned.  The new owner seems to like it.  Dorothy approved of the “gem” beads in the center of the flowers.
We took the camper to Lake Monroe in Bloomington.  I went to college at IU, so it was fun to be back in that area.  We drove to campus in the late afternoon just to see how things had changed and vowed to go back next summer to visit some of my favorite old haunts.  Our campsite was, once again, not very woodsy.  Next fall we will know that we have to make reservations early (or commit to 2-night stays) if we want to camp in a natural setting during October.  The place we went was more of an RV park for Indianapolis fishermen or weekenders who are interested in an RV intentional neighborhood scene, not so much a woodsy campground one.  We had no idea going in, but it was also the weekend of this site’s annual Halloween festivities, including a campsite decorating contest and trick-or-treating.  We hadn’t planned on this, so during our excursion to campus we stopped by a grocery store to purchase candy and a makeshift costume for Dorothy–a $2.99 tiara and wand set.  It ended up being a fun surprise.  The other families were very nice, and the whole evening ended up being very enjoyable even though it wasn’t what we pictured.  Since groups were walking around from site to site, many people also made a point to go over and peek in our cute camper, which was once again very unique among much larger and newer (and neutral-colored) campers.  My favorite comment was from one person who asked if it was really retro, or had we purchased it new to look like that.  🙂
Now for my pictures.  Above, Dorothy is broom-sweeping our camper as we get things set up.  She fancies she is like Laura Ingalls doing her chores.
Even though our site itself was not woodsy, the campground was right next to the woods surrounding Lake Monroe.  We took a gorgeous hike through the pretty foliage and down to the lake.  (Can you spot the baby?)
Dorothy pretended to be a lake mermaid.  I got this photo of her pretending to jump back to her watery home, but unfortunately did not capture the hysterically cute affected mermaidesque hair-tossing of a moment before.
We cooked chicken sausages on the fire, and enjoyed our favorite fall acorn squash soup, which I’d prepared at home and warmed in the camper microwave.
The almost-full moon was a perfect backdrop to the campsite trick-or-treating. 

Overconfidence

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Some people are afflicted with a lack of self-confidence.  Others of us are afflicted with a little too much confidence.  Like people who say, “even though I have never been a 2-dimensional artist, was not chosen to help paint the school’s windows in the third grade, and would never even consider painting anything on paper or a canvas to be displayed in public or private, I’ll borrow my 4-year-old’s paintbrushes and use oil-based permanent paint to decorate my camper with handkerchief paisleys.”  And so I did.  One man almost ran his pickup into the fence while driving through the alley, and neighbors I have never met walked dogs (were they even their dogs?) over my way to see what the [heck] I was doing to the little red camper in my back driveway.  It looks…(long pause)…better from a distance than close up.  But no one, ever, nowhere, will have a camper that looks just like mine.  One side down, three to go!

Pumpkins

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Another busy week around here.  Lots of fall fun, including a trip to the pumpkin patch.  We’ve had several house-showings, which is driving us a little crazy at this point.  I think we’ve given up hope of actually selling, and just wish people would leave us alone.  Why do we keep giving free tours of our home to people who will just say things like “oh, it’s so cute!  We just love it!  But we needed an extra bathroom.”  Or first-floor bedroom, or extra square footage, or garage…it’s always something that we clearly didn’t have based on the information in our listing, but for some reason people want to come see it (and not buy it) anyway.

This photo was an accident–he looked away as I was taking it, but isn’t his hat adorable next to the real pumpkins?  I made that for him last year.  I’d just made a similar one for Dorothy and she insisted the new baby would need one too.  Obviously she was right.  Speaking of her being right, today she was putting on her ruby slippers and talking to my mother-in-law.  She said, “when I wear these shoes, people always say, ‘are you Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz?’ But I’m like, ‘ummmm, no, I’m Dorothy from the city.'” 
When did she become such a teenager?  She also seems to have a particular interest in a boy from school, in a way that seems to indicate to me that she’s got a budding awareness of “special” boy/girl relationships.  She always tells me what he’s up to, talks about him often, and last night after church choir (which they also both participate in) she said, “C. sat next to me at choir, then I patted his back, and he went [ insert giggle silly face with tongue sticking out and full body wiggle].  Then after choir I gave him three different hugs.”  Oh my!

Today we made cookies, without boys.  (Except Worth, I guess, who was kept happy with pea crisps while we baked.)  The last few years I have tried several different recipes for pumpkin cookies, but to be frank they all sort of suck.  I mean, the are edible, they made from butter and sugar after all.  But they aren’t good like pumpkin-bread-in-cookie-form or anything.  Today I thought I’d try a different route and make a recipe for applesauce cookies, but sub in pumpkin.  I also added pumpkin pie spice, and substituted chocolate chips for the recommended raisins.  They taste good but are too chewy, and the bottoms basically scraped right off when I severed them from the cookie sheet they were stuck to.  Parchment might have helped with the release, but not the texture.  I think it must be hard to develop a pumpkin cookie recipe because of all the moisture in cooked pumpkin.  If anyone has one, please let me know!

In between house-showings and pumpkin patches this week I did something that makes me feel really smug and obnoxious–I ordered my Christmas cards!  I know it’s early, but it was this gorgeous afternoon, the kids were playing out front, and from the basement I’d just unearthed the holiday dress I’d purchased on clearance last year for Dorothy.  It has a matching dress for her doll, which is always extra special.  Dorothy saw it and had herself and her dolly dressed in no time, so I popped the baby into this little fleece Santa suit left from Dorothy’s babyhood, and clicked away.  I got adorable photos of both kids in their holiday get-ups, so I figured I might as well finish the task while I was on it and selected a pretty photo card online.  Now bring it on, season-accelerating commercial world, I’m ready for you!  Before you even change your displays from spooky to Santa, my holiday cards are done.  Pow!

I am a dork, but you are reading my blog–please love me anyway.  🙂

A busy week

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When we arrived home after our camping adventures last weekend we noticed the refrigerator was making an odd noise, sort of like a zombie.  Being the (apparently) stupid and ineffectual people we are, we just noted the noise and moved on, not stopping to check on details like are all the frozen foods thawing?  And unfortunately they were, but we didn’t realize it until it was too late and much of the frozen stuff had to be thrown out or cooked.  So we bought a new refrigerator (with some odd combination of an Energy Star rebate, appliance disposal fees and a Columbus Day sale making it more cost-effective than buying used), and we’ve also once again lowered the priced on our house.  Perhaps someday so the new buyers, wherever they are now, will use the new ‘frige for something beautiful like leftover wedding cake or champagne to toast something wonderful and we will stop banging our heads against the wall over our housing situation.  A girl can dream, right?  In the meantime we’re eating meals of baked chicken with a side of fried fish, since both fish and fowl were saved from the freezer, and being glad it’s not worse.
Then on Wednesday, the very busiest and most hectic day of the week, as I was recovering from the new refrigerator blues but beginning to suffer a sore throat, Dorothy informed me at approximately the halfway point on our drive home from preschool that IT WAS THE DAY, the very special and most important day, that she got to take the traveling classroom gingerbread person home, and that she had accidentally left [him? her?] at school.  I considered making the gingerbread person wait until we were already back at the very same building for choir practice later that night, but instead I rallied my inner good mother and turned the car back around.  “Gingy” was fetched, along with [his? her?] tote bag, and brought on home with us.  Gingy listened to our daily chapter from the Little House on the Prairie book, then settled down with Dorothy for a nap.  A couple hours later it was time almost time to leave for ballet lessons and I realized I should look in Gingy’s journal to see just what was expected of us with regard to this plush traveling pastry.  About a half dozen of Dorothy’s peers had already brought Gingy home (Gingy visitation being determined by drawing names), and those students’ caring and creative mothers had written long and lovely essays about Gingy’s stays with their families.  Things like “in honor of Gingy, we made gingerbread cake!” and long tales of Gingy-inspired adventures.  Those bitches, I thought.  Never mind that enthusiastic parent involvement is actually one of the things I treasure about our preschool.  All the mommies who get Gingy after us will love me, though, because I took things in the journal down a notch or two out of necessity.  We sent Gingy back today with just a few brief sentences about our busy day and one potentially embarrassing (given Gingy’s uncertain gender) home-printed photograph of Gingy wearing a pink tutu.

Returning to my regular blogging business, these Lego cufflinks were a Christmas gift to Rob last year.  They are Legos from his own childhood, and I glued them to cufflink platforms I purchased from a jewelry supply store online. He loves wearing unusual cufflinks, and there aren’t very many opportunities to make gifts for him. I snapped a picture of them when he was on his way out the door this morning.

And who can stay mad about houses and refrigerators with this juicy baby around to squeeze on?   He’s wearing a t-shirt I did before he was born, an inkjet-printed lobster applique on a plain white tee.  He’s turning into some adorable little butt-scooting backwards-crawling cherub-demon, and I’m afraid I’m having to babyproof this house already, even though I’d hoped to just do that in the next house!

We went camping!

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After several weeks of work we finally took our 1978 Fleetwing on the road.  We didn’t go far–just over 30 miles down the road to the closest state park we could get reservations at on a few days notice.  It turned out not to even be in the woods, but on a golf course behind a state attraction less than a mile from the little downtown area.  Not exactly the hiking venue we’d had in mind, but this was, after all, just meant as a trial for our camping set up.  We had a little trouble backing in to our spot, being towing neophytes, but our camp neighbors helped guide us in and we quickly set up. Dorothy “decorated” the hitch with acorns upon arrival.

Then she decorated our table bench with fall leaves.

I got things together in the little camper kitchen.

This picture shows scale.  Our camper was by far the smallest one there, no contest, and the only one that wasn’t white or offwhite.  (If you click on the photo it will enlarge and you can see it better.)  It was a real conversation starter.  “Oh, you all are the ones in the little red camper!”  That’s us, all right.

We walked around the campground in lieu of hiking.  Dorothy collected nature finds in the treasure box we brought along for that purpose.

There was an old school playground with a steep metal slide (wheee!) and these creepy clown swings.

Dorothy and I broke out the camper craft supplies and made some acorn people after our dinner.

Everyone got tucked in; Dorothy up, the rest of us down.  I was surprised that Dorothy actually slept the night through up there in the bunk.  We had a great time.  We’ve tent camped with Dorothy on several occasions, but she doesn’t remember any of them.  She was curious about the fire (“how will we unlit it when we’re done?”), was confused that all the wood had disappeared this morning (“did the fire melt it?”), roasted her own chicken sausage and marshmallow, and insisted that we take showers in the campground facilities this morning.  Traveling with a four-year-old is such a great reminder to savor every experience!  We had a great time.  We brought some things we didn’t need, and failed to bring a few things that would have been nice to have.  Now that we’re a little wiser we’re excited to try it again soon.

I made a camper fridgie

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More spookies in the house! A few years ago I got this brainstorm on how to display some of the crocheted doilies that have ended up in my linen collection from various dearly departed relatives. I dyed them black, starched them stiff, and hung them in my windows with suction cups and little plastic spiders. This way I get to enjoy the beauty of the fancywork done by the women who came before me, but I don’t actually have to use white doilies on my dresser. Dorothy has enjoyed arranging (and rearranging) the spiders.

Think back twenty or thirty years and imagine your grandmother’s refrigerator.  It has a little crocheted yarn shape of some sort attached to it with a magnet, doesn’t it?  Fridgies are a bit of an art that time has forgotten (and maybe that’s for the best), but I revived it for this little project as one of the details to finish of my camper’s interior.  My camper doesn’t have an actual fridge, but I’ve attached this one to the galvanized metal backsplash I glued up over the propane range.  Very appropriately campy, I think.

All four sides of the camper are now painted and it’s mostly ready to go.  I hooked up the water as a test, and it works.  The propane range does not work but I’m hoping it’s just because the tank is empty.  I’ve been stashing bedding and kitchen essentials in it (a camper quilt is forthcoming but not done), and today I completed the very important task of putting together a camper art bag, with supplies for sketching or painting scenes, rubbing bark, collecting leaves, and gluing googly eyes and fake hair to acorns.  I foresee many hours of mother/daughter fun at picnic tables, stringing nature finds on fishing wire and creating little woodland whimsies with the help of glitter pom-poms!  I also found an old notebook, filled it with lined paper, and tucked a pen inside.  I hope to keep a camper journal with as much or little as we care to log, as a record of our travels.