Monday, March 31, 2008

Still sick

I am still sick with this awful cold. I made myself get out of the house today; I think W was going to organize a mutiny with the animals if I didn't take him somewhere. Since I needed more Mucinex, we went to Wal-Mart. While we were there, I got some more plants. Last week I got a purple pansy for my front stoop. I got another one of those today to balance out the front door. I also got some plants for the backyard. While he was here in February, my dad drafted a "landscape" plan for our backyard. I stayed pretty close to his recommendations. I got hostas (4/$5), bleeding hearts (2/$5) and daylilies (4/$5) as roots to plunk into the ground. I got some freesia bulbs; I was surprised that these bulbs are supposed to be planted in the spring--I thought bulbs had to go into the ground in the fall--it was $5 for 25 of them. Finally I got seed packets of sweet alyssum (10 cents a pack!), moonflower and morning glory (97 cents each pack) along with some peat pots to start them in. I'm not too optimistic about starting plants from seeds, but I figured it was worth a try. If they don't work out, I'll just buy some more mature plants later on. I'd like to get all of the roots and bulbs in this coming weekend, so once I feel better, I'm going to go out back and start preparing the soil. There's a lot of preparing to be done. The only thing I can't decide on is how to design my beds. Should I use landscape timbers to make a raised bed? Should I set the bed apart using large, flat rocks? Should I use bricks or garden stones? Any suggestions? It's not a large area--about 16x4 at the most--but I want to set it apart a little to discourage Maggie from getting in it too much.
Tonight, while waiting for Mike to get home from work, I worked on my second skirt. This might have turned out to be unwise, considering how I'm feeling, but it looks okay so far. It's a straight skirt, as opposed to an A-line, which I made last week. It also has a side zipper, which I must say, went in much more easily and attractively this go around than last.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

A not-so-fun Sunday

Mike's at work in NYC. I woke up at 2 am with a nasty head cold. I feel awful. W's being a good sport, but I can tell he's getting a little restless and frustrated with me. We're filling our day with Elmo and Clifford.

Friday, March 28, 2008

A fun Friday

Mike usually has Friday off, but a few weeks ago had agreed to fill in for someone today. That wasn't problematic until his new gig in NYC started a little earlier than expected, and it looked like he was going to have a ridiculously long work week. Lo and behold, he got a phone call last night from the guy for whom he was filling in, and it turned out that they weren't going to need Mike after all. It was like getting a notice for a snow day at 10 the night before! So we immediately got online to find some fun stuff to do today. We went to the library in Hopewell, a little town just to the north of us, for kids' music time with a lady named Pat McKinley. W had been to hear her before, at our library here in Lawrenceville, with Mike, and he seemed to like it. So we went and he seemed to have a good time. Afterwards we went to the town just next to Hopewell, Pennington, and walked around and got a blueberry muffin and some lemonade and sat on a bench and watched the cars go by. W seemed to have some energy to run out at that point, so we hopped in the car and headed to the park that's right by our house. There are several soccer fields for him to run around on, as well as a nice play ground and good toddler swings. Needless to say, he was ready for a nap once we got home.
I think I could use one too!

Monday, March 24, 2008


Ta-da! I just sewed in my FIRST ZIPPER (on my first skirt from my Sew What! Skirts book). If you've ever sewn, you know what a feat this is for a novice sewer. ::golf clap::

Saturday, March 22, 2008

W in MS, Saturday

We had a big day today. We started off with some banana for breakfast. We then headed to the Brandon City Park. We tried to fly our Elmo kite but the wind wasn't steady enough. We also tried to swing, but they had removed the little kid swings. So it was a little bit of a bust. The upshot was that there were a couple of ladies there setting up for a birthday party and they gave W one of the balloons they were decorating the picnic pavillion with. Unfortunately we forgot to take the camera with us to the park. We did, however, remember to take it with us when we went to the Crossgates Lake this afternoon to feed the ducks.
We saw three different broods of baby ducks. They were losing their yellow fluff and turning brown. They were adorable!
W enjoyed chasing the geese. I'm not sure the geese really enjoyed it. Watch out, goose!
Afterwards we went to Brewster's for ice cream. I had never been there before; the ice cream I had (cake batter) was delish!
After an afternoon nap, W had big fun playing in Ace and Burdy's big backyard.
After watching Hobo go in and out through the hole in the screen door, W decided it would be neat to do so as well.
He still loves his cowboy hat.

Hello!W and Hobo exploring the Great Outdoors.

W is looking for leaf treasures beneath the tree.


We had some delish food last night. Here are some recipes for those who are interested in "recreating" the magic.

Bopper's Broccoli Cheese Soup
[This is a recipe from one of my mom's nearest and dearest friends]
Put a stick of butter/margarine in a large pan over medium heat. Saute 3 ribs of celery, 2 grated carrots and 1 (cut up) bunch of green onions. Add 2 cans of chicken broth and 1 pkg. frozen, chopped broccoli. Simmer for 30 minutes.
Add the following:
  • 3 cans cream of potato soup
  • 8 oz sour cream
  • 3 tbsp cooking sherry
  • 1 tbsp chopped jalapeno peppers
  • 8 oz grated cheddar cheese
  • Tabasco sauce as desired

Simmer 30 more minutes. This recipe will serve 6-8 people. This soup is good with or without cheese. The soup we had last night did not have cheese in it. Also, try using the reduced sodium soups whenever possible!

I definitely "made up" the marinades for the kabobs we had. I didn't measure anything, but here are the ingredients and approximate amounts of each for both marinades.

Beef Kabobs (3 lbs chopped beef)

  • 1/2 c Wostershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1-2 tsp "Slap Ya Mama" seasoning (use Tony's or whatever else you like)
  • red cooking wine (about 1/4 cup??)
  • freshly ground black pepper

Shrimp Kabobs (3 lbs peeled shrimp)

  • 1/3 c extra virgin olive oil (or whatever OO you have)
  • 1/3 c white cooking wine
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1-2 tsp "Slap Ya Mama" seasoning
  • 1/4 c lemon juice

Again, those measurements are approximate. "Just eyeball it," as Rachael Ray would say! Both meats marinated for about 4 hours in the fridge.

And I say "thank you"

Thank you to my friends south of the Mason-Dixon Line who made tonight so wonderful. Cheers!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Think about it...

Okay, so Mike, my dad and I were having a discussion today about the upcoming presidential election. There are lots of people out there who think that Barack Obama is the antichrist (for an example, check out this [creepy] website).
Okay... So here's my dad's question: If a person thinks Obama is the antichrist, why would they vote against him? I mean, the Bible has already "spoken" as to what the end will be like. So why would a person try to change God's will? By voting against Obama, the person would essentially be going against God... Wouldn't the person who was so sure that Obama was the antichrist be certain of their salvation anyway? Why delay that?

Think about it.

W in MS

Mom got W a red cowboy hat at Wal-Mart. He loves it.
He also likes it when Mike juggles for him. Mike was juggling plastic Easter eggs last night and W picked up two of them and started moving his arms up and down just like Mike to mimic the juggling. Pretty cute.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Nouveau 9-0?

Not sure how I feel about this...

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


We are in MS this week. We spent the past few days on the Coast with Mike's parents. We had a really nice visit. Their area has improved a lot since Katrina, but once you get south of the RR tracks (about 1/2 mile from the beach), things deteriorate quickly. We drove along Hwy 90 several times and it was amazing to see how bad things still are. There isn't much in the news these days about recovery (or lack thereof) from the storm, and the coverage that's there is usually about NOLA. The Coast is still really horrible; it was incredible to see how slowly things are moving.
While I was on the Coast, my MIL helped me draft my skirt patterns. I made a prototype with some scrap fabric she had; it turned out pretty nicely. I am feeling optimistic about this project.
We are back in Brandon now. I cut out the Amy Butler skirt fabric this afternoon. Unfortunately I can't work on the skirt while I'm here since I have to put in the zipper first and Mom doesn't know where her zipper foot for her sewing machine is. Bummer.
But I did get a huge piece of Aida cross stitch fabric to work on the birth announcement for my sister-in-law's new nephew (who was born last week). The thing is going to be huge. She said that she stitched the one for her other nephew on 12 count (which I don't think actually exists--I think she did either 11 or 14), but she said she used 3 strands of floss as she stitched it, so that tells me I'm in the right ballpark, size-wize. It's quite the project...

Thursday, March 13, 2008


So I have a lot of projects going on right now. None have to be done soon, but there are a few that take precedence over others. They are, in order:
  1. finish embroidering little boy's Monkey t-shirt for April 5 church silent auction
  2. start and finish embroidering little girl's t-shirt for April 5 church silent auction (design TBD) should it be a kitty cat? a flower? butterflies? any suggestions?
  3. finish stitching Summer Line-Up (The Trilogy) and make into throw pillow
  4. finish sewing W's jungle animals romper (hem shorts, add buttons)
  5. cross stitch birth sampler for sister-in-law's nephew (see below)
  6. get measurements (ick!) to make first skirt pattern (yay!) using Sew What! Skirts
  7. make first skirt
So I guess that really isn't too bad. I've told myself that I am NOT allowed to get any more cross stitch patterns or fabric until I finish the projects listed above. As for the birth sampler that I'm doing for my sister-in-law... Well, apparently, about ten years ago when her husband's brother's wife (are you following me?) had their first kid, she stitched a birth announcement for the child. She's done one for each child thereafter. Well, they're on their fourth kid, due any day now, and Jenny is sick of this pattern. I can't say that I blame her. I started it the other day, only to have to stop until I can get a bigger piece of fabric to stitch on. The thing is ginormous. You'd think a 15x18 inch piece of 11-count Aida cloth would be big enough, right? Wrong. I'm going to need a piece specially cut at the fabric store, which I haven't gotten around to doing yet. The good news is that there is a lot of "white" space on the design that isn't stitched. It should go pretty fast, especially since it's on such a big stitch count. I think I'm going to force myself to do it this coming week when I'm in MS. Maybe that'll be the only project I take with me--that way, when I get the "itch to stitch" I have to work on it.
Here's the Summer Lineup that I'm currently working on and plan to make into a pillow:
And here's the fabric I ordered the other day for my first two skirts: The first one is called Blossom Cotton Terra Cotta; the second one is by Amy Butler (Lotus Star Paisley Lime). Both are from

I finished the book I started the other night. It was really excellent. I'm taking it down to MS so that my mother-in-law and mom can take turns reading it. I think it's one they'd get into.

Monday, March 10, 2008

What I'm reading

My sister-in-law gave me a novel, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, by Lisa See, for Christmas. I am just now getting around to reading it--it's fantastic. It's historical fiction, a genre I enjoy but don't read very often. When I started it last night, I couldn't put it down. At the beginning of each chapter, I'd tell myself, "This is the last chapter--then you have to go to sleep." I made it about halfway through before my eyelids wouldn't cooperate anymore.
The story is set in 19th century China, in the Hunan province. It chronicles the friendship of Lily and Snow Flower, two women (young girls at the start of the book) from different backgrounds, who find common ground in their assignment to one another as "old sames" or soulmates. This seemingly chance assignation is actually a very calculated match, meant to bring both women to marriages that will improve their respective social standing. At some point in their relationship, a rift develops between the women. I have not yet reached this misunderstanding, but things are already beginning to become complicated in the relationship. Perhaps the most interesting part thus far has been their utility of nu shu, a 1000-year old Chinese tradition of secret writing between females. It is (perhaps) the only language in the world developed by women for the exclusive use of women. Through nu shu characters written on a fan, Snow Flower and Lily share with one another the trials and triumphs of their respective lives. This uniquely fascinating tradition, along with detailed accounts of (tortuous) footbinding and a thorough look at the expectations of females in 19th century Chinese society, makes for an extraordinary read.


Thanks to Bardwell for his superb play-by-play of Barack Obama's Columbus, MS, appearance today. I felt like I was there!

I am soooo disappointed in you!

Eliot Spitzer, current governor and former AG of NY, is best known for his relentless pursuit of shady activities and those who carry those activities out. Now he's being linked to a major "high-end" prostitution ring. This is so disheartening, as he seemed to be one of those politicians who really might have been a "boy scout." How embarrassing, not least of all for his wife.
Also of interest: Yesterday the NYT ran a column that (in my opinion, accurately) commented on some Americans' prejudice when it comes to Barack Obama as a potential president. The column voiced the thoughts that have been swirling in my head for the past few month, which basically can be summed up as this: Are Americans more or less willing to accept a black as president than a woman? Why or why not? Why does race/gender even matter at this point in time? Moreover, why does religion play a part? We all have certain prejudices, it's true, but to what extent should we act on those prejudices? For an interesting and thought-provoking read, click here.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Time change(s)

In spite of the time change, we made it to church this morning. Of course, we set the alarms on both cell phones to be absolutely sure that we got up in time. The sermon was thought-provoking. It dealt with "believing" and choosing to live--not just exist. This really hit home for me. It's coming up on my 5-year anniversary of leaving "anorexic camp" and that's a huge milestone for me. Even though I still struggle with all the things that come with recovery from an eating disorder (including mini-lapses), I am, overall, in a very good place. For that I am thankful. I had to believe not only that I could get better, but that I deserved to get better. I had slipped into just "existing" and that existence was far from comfortable. For me, my eating disorder was, I think, a slow suicide. It was a cry for help, but it was also a relentless effort to destroy my body. It did wreak havoc on my body--my menstrual cycles became sporadic and eventually disappeared, my heart was weakening and my bones had already begun to break down in my hips. But I'm lucky--all of those things I did to my body were reversed once I chose recovery and began to take care of myself.
While I was at the rehab center, I really came to believe in God's existence. While raised in a church-going home (Methodist), my family was far from devout, and I had always been taught to question things. In college, I lapsed into agnosticism. Sure, there might be a god, but who can be sure? During my time of being active in my eating disorder, I felt that God, if there was such an entity, had deserted me. It was during my last few weeks at Renaissance that I "rediscovered" God. I was dealing with some pretty heavy issues. As I recalled a particularly traumatic event from childhood, my eyes, so to speak, were opened. God was there, and God had been there all along. God had protected me then, and God was there to protect me whenever I needed it. I came to see God as a sort of "bug screen", if you will. The God I know is like a window screen--you open the glass part of the window to let in fresh air and the attached screen keeps out bugs and other potential home invaders. That metaphor might be a little silly, but it works for me--and I think that's what God wants: for us to see God and accept God on a personal level.
Coincidentally, the day that I left Renaissance (April 9) was the 6-year anniversary of a dear friend's suicide. That bothered me at first--I wasn't sure how I felt about combining such a happy occasion (release!!) with a day that held such sad memories for me. My therapist there helped me to put that in perspective, though. She said, "This is the anniversary of the day your friend chose to die. But this is also the day you chose to live."

Monday, March 3, 2008

Sewing machine

I learned how to use my sewing machine today. My mother-in-law gave it to me last year (it had belonged to her mother). It's a great machine-- probably about 20 years old or so--but the user manual had gotten lost somewhere along the way. I found a website that had manuals for every sewing machine ever made available for download/print for 10 bucks. I bought it, printed it, and VOLIA! I wound my bobbin, threaded my needle and sewed some fabric this afternoon. A lot of it was trial and error (mostly error, actually). By the time I was getting the hang of it something bad happened: my needle broke. It was the only needle I had for the machine. I'll be making a trip to the fabric store tomorrow to buy several new ones.
Besides the seasonal throw pillows I plan to do, I am also planning to make some spring/summer skirts. I ordered a cool book the other day called Sew What! Skirts and it has 16 "easy" skirts you can make without a store-bought pattern. You just take your own measurements and plot out your own pattern on the backside of wrapping paper (or whatever else you have around). I'm pretty excited. I've already found some cool prints that I'm thinking about ordering to make skirts out of.Flowers and Birds on Brown-Sierra

Zinnia Black- by Alexander Henry

Black Butterfly--Sofia by Robert Kaufman
I'll keep you posted on my progress (if any) in this endeavor.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Accomplishments today

Even though we didn't make it to church this morning, I've managed to get some stuff done that makes me feel productive (we didn't go to church because we all slept late--past 9!). Anyway, Mike stumbled off to work around 11 because he remembered he was filling in for someone. I think he was going to try to jet out of there around 4:30 though, so he should be home any minute. Whether or not he's going into NY tomorrow for work is questionable. If I had my way, he'd stay home in bed.
So what have I gotten done? Well, let's see. W and I went to the library to get some items we had requested last week that had been delivered. We picked up a book for Mike that he has been itching to read--it's the second novel by "James Church," which is the pseudonym of a guy who remains anonymous because he's a former intelligence agent of some sort that still dabbles in top-secret stuff. Mike wanted the book because it's set in North Korea. He read the first one by this guy last year (The Corpse in the Koryo) and enjoyed it, so he is pretty excited about this new release. We also got Sesame Street Old School, Volume 1, discs 1 and 2. Our library (for some odd reason) only has disc 3, so we had to request 1 and 2 from a different library. These DVDs show episodes from the very first Sesame Street shows (1969-1974). The third thing that was on hold for us was for ME. It's a book about crewel embroidery but with a modern twist. It's called The New Crewel (by Katherine Shaughnessy) and it got rave reviews on Amazon. I've never tried crewel before but I have a couple of pieces that my grandmothers did and they are absolutely gorgeous. The designs in this book are funky and colorful--I can't wait to try my hand at crewel.
A few days ago I finished two little stitching projects. They are both t-shirts. One is for W and one is for his cousin I's first birthday. On W's t-shirt I embroidered a little monkey eating a banana. On I's shirt I embroidered a dog on a skateboard. Both designs came from an iron-on set I got at the craft store a few weeks ago. They turned out great. I can't wait for the weather to warm up so that W can wear his!W's monkey shirt--
I's dog shirt--