Thursday, May 31, 2012

Stress, and the Non-Missing Missing Puzzle Piece

Stress.  It's everywhere.  Last 2 weeks of school stress.  Graduation stress.  Refinancing stress.  Getting the house passably clean for the appraisal stress.  Grading stress.  School activities stress.  Plus all the ordinary stress that a family of 6 normally has.  Makes a girl want to curl up on the couch with a quilt binding to sew on and watch a marathon of the spelling bee.  And maybe, eventually, get the grading done too.

I was preparing to throw out the above puzzle as part of cleaning off the round table, which tends to be a catchall for whatever the kids pick up off the chairs or kitchen table or floor but don't want to put away.  The cats perch there too.  I had finished the puzzle except for one missing piece, months ago.  Our policy is to throw out thrift store puzzles if they have missing pieces, but I left the puzzle up because I figured, the cats and kids have been messing with this table plenty, maybe it will show up.  That was back in March.  Well, I can't find where the missing puzzle piece was, because someone had found it and put it in.  That so rarely happens, I quizzed the kids about it.  "Did one of you find the puzzle piece that was missing for this puzzle?"  The closest I got was an "I might have, it's been a long time," from Secundus.  Good news, I guess!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

WIP Wednesday and Yarn Along - Jack's Chain edition

Jack's Chain is a completed quilt top now!  I overcalculated the number of blocks needed and have enough extra for a small baby quilt too.
It will be interesting to figure out an appropriate quilting pattern and then the binding will be like binding a double wedding ring, but those are both in the future.  Also in the future is a big "how-to" construction post, because I kind of would like to record that for posterity.  This is an obscure pattern but it deserves more popularity.  And it totally is not that hard and doesn't require any special construction techniques other than set-in seams (and a lot of them).  There are always some spots where the points don't perfectly meet, but a good pressing makes it lie flat.
I'm working on the binding of the Framed-In quilt.  This is the first time I've used a vintage sheet for a backing and it went pretty well.  The higher thread count does mean it's a little harder to stitch down the binding.  I should probably change to a finer needle than I'm using.
In knitting, I've succumbed to the Color Affection virus going around.  I'm using various yarns that have been in my stash for awhile; both of these are reclaimed from thrift-store sweaters I unraveled, and the third color will be more of the alpaca from my Traveling Companion shawl.  Henle Latin book 1 is my reading material for the week because I am still in the midst of all the year-end craziness.  This is the text I use for 6th and 7th grade.  Final exams this week!

  • Jack's Chain Quilt - finished top!
  • Framed In Quilt - binding
  • What will be my next quilt project? I'm honestly not sure.
  • Black Roses Stole - maybe 55% done 
  • knitting cotton bath rug - no progress
  • knitting argyle-fest - no progress
  • spinning - working on blue laceweight Wensleydale - Halfway through another bobbin

  • Linking up to Freshly Pieced for WIP Wednesday and Small Things for the Yarn-Along.

    Tuesday, May 29, 2012

    Middle School Musical and other family notes

    Beauty and the Beast coming up this week at a middle school near us!  That's Tertia, second from the right.  She's a villager/shopper and she's been practicing every night until 6 or 6:30 lately.  I'm looking forward to seeing her in the actual show.
    Primigenitus is graduating June 7.  He's very relieved to have his Senior thesis presentation done, and has noted that the school year is slowing down to a manageable pace.  In a nice little full-circle touch, the commencement speaker is the pastor who owned our house before we bought it, and his wife is the one who told us about the little classical Christian school that was going to start meeting at the church three doors down from our house.  (I think they'll want to stop by and see how much the trees have grown ... I REALLY need to clean!)  I homeschooled Primigenitus for Kindergarten but was more than ready to join the co-op the next year, and I've been teaching Latin ever since.
    Secundus is running with a friend just about every day.  It's hard for me to understand, but some people actually like running.  Even stranger, they view it as a social event.  And Secundus is good at it.

    Quarta had my help putting together her costume for her final history presentation.  They've been studying colonial America this year in G2, and she's got a skirt, shirt, vintage bonnet and apron from my stock of vintage Great-Grandma linens, and my recently completed Traveling Companion shawl.  With all of these together, it's a passable impression of a colonial lady.  My philosophy of costuming for kids is to pick accessories that suggest the look I want, and I don't worry about absolute historical accuracy.  I have had good success in pulling together costumes for kids in less than 5 minutes this way.  I'll take a picture of her when she's in full costume.

    Emperor's Day is coming up for my 6th grade class.  In 7th and 8th I'm just planning on finishing up our longstanding projects and playing Latin Jeopardy.  But first, we have to get through the Final Exam this week.  And the grading.

    Monday, May 28, 2012

    In Which I Demonstrate Why I Am Not a Math Teacher

    I made Jack's Chain too big.  I had been steadily working along, pretty sure I could finish the final 2 large rows and 1 connecting row for Design Wall Monday today.   I sewed the 7th of planned 8 large rows to the final connector row this morning, and then decided I should really measure the main quilt plus the bit I sewed today... I had this nagging feeling.  I borrowed Steve's tape measure and checked.  Width is fine for a twin bed at about 67" (it's going to be Tertia's quilt, and she will love all the kitties, bunnies, puppies, and cutesy flowers on it a lot). But length with all of the rows I made would come in at about 110", and that is too long, even with a generous pillow tuck!
    I went ahead and sewed the strip I pieced on.  That end row of hexagons and 9-patches will have to be unpicked, and together with the other blocks I have, will probably be enough for a bonus baby quilt.  But I'm going to go ahead and count the top as finished yardage used, and the bonus top can be another week's stash report!  The final dimensions of the quilt will be roughly (because of the uneven edges) 67"x94".  And I have conquered Jack's Chain, so I don't feel so bad about not being great at math.  Actually, it happened because I was in production mode and couldn't be bothered to stop sewing and measure.  I started this quilt so long ago that I had forgotten (or never finished making) my original plans, and just had it in my head that there would be 8 main rows.  Maybe later this week I'll go into the details of planning a Jack's Chain quilt so others can avoid my mistakes, but I'm pretty happy with the top.  Or I will be once the unpicking is done.

    Stash Report:

    Fabric used this week: 6 yards estimated for Jack's Chain, twin sized top
    Fabric used year to date: 46.8 yards
    Added this week: 0 yards
    Added year to date: 27.2 yards
    Net used for 2012: 19.6 yards

    Yarn used this week: 550 yards for Traveling Companion shawl
    Yarn used year to date: 2506 yards
    Yarn added this week: 0 yards
    Yarn added year to date: 492 yards (all handspun, not purchased)
    Net used for 2012: 2014 yards

    Happy Memorial Day!  The boys are on a hike; Tertia and I went shopping together at the hardware store to buy a new flag and bracket and some pantry moth traps.  Steve put up the new flag and is digging in the garden now.  And I just spent $85.00 on a tank of gas for the van, which is why I can't buy more yarn even though I'd like to.

    Saturday, May 26, 2012


    I was inside Target three times in less than 2 hours today.  I went in a little before 10:00 to get Primigenitus' senior picture order started, but the photo shop was not open.  So we walked over to Famous Footwear, but it was still closed.  So Secundus joined Quarta and me and we walked back to Target, looked for shoes, found some for Secundus but none for Quarta, and by that time the photo shop was open.  Then it was back to Famous Footwear where she did find shoes, then to the van, dropped Secundus off at home with his loot (2 shirts besides the shoes), drove back to the shopping plaza.  Then we went into Kohls to use my Kohls Cash, which I had from two weeks ago on the day of the Cedar Tree auction, when Steve and I realized his suit jacket had ripped 2 months ago, and he needed a suit that day.  Earlier this week, I had tossed out my 3-year-old crock pot, which had developed a short so that, to get it to heat up, you had to hold your finger down on the button constantly for about 5 minutes before it would override the short.  I gave up on it earlier this week and tossed the whole thing in the trash... but my 20-year-old crockpot is just not big enough or versatile enough for anything other than back-up use.  I picked out a Food Network slow cooker that was listed at $70, on sale for 40, and used my Kohls Cash to bring down the price to a whopping $11.37.  Score!  Then it was back to Target to pick up the photos and finally home.
    My handsome, tech-proficient son.  And I actually didn't do such a bad job with the photo shoot myself.

    Friday, May 25, 2012

    Finished Traveling Companion Shawl

    My 5th shawl in the 12 shawls in 2012 Ravelry challenge is finished: The Traveling Companion Shawl.
    Quarta helped me model it.  550 yards of vintage Indiecita Alpaca in fingering weight.  It counts as the first "large" shawl of over 500 yards, of two total required for the challenge.  Not that there is a prize, but I'm a play-by-the-rules kind of girl.  And then there is the fact that I don't wear shawls much, but we don't worry about that.  Because the knitting is the fun part.  Yay!
    And here is Quarta's latest creation: an entirely edible re-enactment of the Boston Tea Party.  There were audible gasps of amazement from the other 4th graders when I carried it into her classroom.  She did it all herself; I only helped get the brownies out of the pans and I came up with the idea of cutting a slot in the Twizzlers to hold the Necco wafer heads.  I think there was some concern that it would need to be refrigerated over the weekend before it's consumed, but I figure frosting from a can probably has enough preservatives in it, don't you?

    Wednesday, May 23, 2012

    WIP Wednesday and Yarn-Along

    Considering the fact that this is the most stressful time of year for a teacher, and that I have a son graduating in just a few weeks (why yes, he was just named valedictorian yesterday, and yes, I'm just a little proud!), the WIPs have been rolling along rather nicely.  This is Jack's Chain, just past the halfway point.  It's all about a billion little set-in seams from this point on, so smooth sailing.
    The Framed-In Quilt came off the machine yesterday.  It just needs a binding and label.  This was my UFO for the month of May.
    My Traveling Companion shawl (made from estate sale fingering weight alpaca) is finished and blocking on the guestroom bed.  It will need its own post in a day or two, but I was excited to finish it!  Debating whether/when to start a Color Affection, or just continue with Lady MacBeth.
    I started spinning more of my blue hand-dyed Wensleydale yesterday, and I made a discovery:  if you start spinning using the Scotch Tension set-up and realize partway in that you really wanted the double-drive set-up instead, you can't switch midway through the bobbin, because they wind on in different directions.  I've been spinning almost 10 years and didn't know that.  But then, I never claimed to be a technical spinner.

    And I'm supposed to say what I'm reading, but right now it's mainly grading papers.  Boring!

    I'm linking up to Freshly Pieced and Ginny's Yarn-Along today.  There's also this amazing collection of giveaways going on at Sew Mama Sew, (I was too busy to come up with something for that this time around, but that doesn't stop me from entering!) and there is the Blogger's Quilt Festival at Amy's Creative Side, in which I do have a quilt entered (#265, just in case you wanted to vote for it).

    Tuesday, May 22, 2012

    7th Grade

    In Memoriam, Steve's Junior High camp socks, purchased 1975.
    Requiescant in pace.

    What can be said about 7th grade that is not better forgotten?  I've been teaching 7th grade steadily since 2003, and most of it is very forgettable indeed.  An awful lot of drilling verb endings, grammar rules and vocabulary only to realize that your students don't remember those kinds of things.  At all.  And that unless there is a fair amount of momentum from academic high-achievers and lots of "fun" activities, most 7th graders are perfectly happy to let go of any ambition and pretend they're as invisible as they wish they are.

    Before I started teaching 7th grade...
    • I didn't know what "passive-aggressive" meant.
    • I assumed all students at a Christian school wanted to work hard to please their parents and their teachers.  I thought that they would be happy with good grades and the occasional piece of candy.
    • I was able to keep up with basic life-skills type chores like the laundry, cleaning, doctor appointments, bill-paying, and reading to small children.  It was 7th grade that put me under, and I'm sticking to that story.
    • I had forgotten the sheer terror of being stared at by kids who believe they are God's gift to the world and are pretty sure you're not.  Not since middle school myself had I experienced this; I have had to toughen up an awful lot in the last several years.  And since I've never been able to master the art of the withering glare, I have had to develop my ability to laugh at my students without offending them.  Or their parents.
    • This never happened: "Mrs. Chapman, look -- pinkeye!!" while pointing at his eye and blinking crusty contagion all over the desk. 
    • I didn't sigh or roll my eyes nearly as much.
    I have a very boy-heavy 7th grade class this year.  Seventh grade boys are almost all doofuses.  I hesitate to use the word about 6th graders because their parents haven't made peace with what their children are becoming yet, but the secret is out by 7th grade.  Everyone knows; it's obvious.  In a good school like Cedar Tree, there is more self-awareness on the part of the kids, and a certain amount of competitiveness to be the best doofuses they can be.  It's quite endearing, actually.  But it can easily degrade into pure silliness at any time.

    Seventh grade girls have a hard time.  No longer in grammar school, they can't count on their photographic memories to whiz them along to academic supremacy anymore.  They have to develop analytical and linear thinking skills just at the time when their own physiology is developing in other directions.  Most of them have braces and other unpleasant dental appliances (did you know that girls nowadays coordinate the colored rubber bands on their braces to the season of the year?  I didn't either, until I taught 7th grade).  They don't actually cover their mouths with their hands when they speak, but they seem to try to speak so that nobody will see or hear them.  When you're their hard-of-hearing Latin teacher, this can be frustrating.  And girls are much more prone to a self-destructive perfectionism than boys.  (Actually, boys aren't prone to any kind of perfectionism.)  If they can't move on after making a mistake, and especially if they can't forgive themselves for not being perfect, it can lead to a kind of toxic paralysis that has a negative effect on everything.

    So, not that people are reading my blog for wise parenting advice or anything, but: I would advise parents of 7th grade sons to read Proverbs with their sons, and do lots of high-energy "boy" activities one-on-one especially with fathers and sons.  And I would advise parents of 7th grade daughters to read Psalms and Proverbs with their daughters, and do lots of life-affirming "girl" activities one-on-one especially with mothers and daughters.

    Monday, May 21, 2012

    Design Wall Monday - Jack's Chain again

    I know, Jack's Chain has been up on the design wall for several Mondays now.  But it's really coming along!  Folded on the ironing board to the left is the first two rows, joined; the next three are up on the wall and I'm getting them together faster than I thought.  I'm trying to space out the colors so they don't all fall in one spot; the reds are the most obvious ones.  Maybe I'll even have the top finished in the next week!
    Stash report - again no changes, but there should be some next week (at least in yarn usage).

    Fabric used this week: 0 yards
    Fabric used year to date: 40.8 yards
    Added this week: 0 yards
    Added year to date: 27.2 yards
    Net used for 2012: 13.6 yards

    Yarn used this week: 0 yards (still plugging away on 2 shawls at once)
    Yarn used year to date: 1956 yards
    Yarn added this week: 0 yards
    Yarn added year to date: 492 yards (all handspun, not purchased)
    Net used for 2012: 1464 yards

    Sunday, May 20, 2012

    Hazel Dell Parade of Bands

    Still life with uneaten popsicle, before and after melting.

    The Hazel Dell Parade of Bands was yesterday.  Our girls wouldn't miss it, and Quarta begged to have her friend Sonata come along.  Silliness was in the air before the parade began.  Bags intended for candy were put to other purposes.
    The honor guard added a touch of dignity to the occasion.  Then the fun was on.
    The Wizard of Oz float was popular.
    Tertia's school combined bands with Jason Lee.  All the bands were good.  I'm always impressed by the organization it takes to get a group of middle-schoolers to march together and play music at the same time.
    Silliness, I tell you.  Actually, the exhaust fumes from the vintage fire trucks were pretty bad.  Breathing through a Jolly Rancher probably helped.  My youngest child has become one of the fast-moving candy-snatchers.
    Looking sweet.
    When the first limousines with tiara-wearing young ladies rolled by, Tertia jumped up, yelling "Princesses!!"  She waved at every single one, even after about the 50th car.
    She especially likes the ones that give out necklaces.
    It was a long parade, but a good one.  A fun bit of Americana I'm glad my kids can experience.

    Friday, May 18, 2012

    Quilts of the Past: Once Upon a Time

    Amy's Creative Side

    Okay, there's this Bloggers' Quilt Festival going on over at Amy's Creative Side, and I have a quilt to share.  It's an older quilt, like the one I shared last fall during the festival then.  And like that one, it was a group project from when I was a member of the informal "Hearts and Hands" quilting group that met at Peggy P.'s house back in Denver in the late 1990's.  I estimate I finished it in 1999, maybe right before we moved out here, although my memory's a little hazy.  And it must have been the pregnancy stress at the time, because I committed the cardinal sin of not making a label for it.  Shocking!  ... and shame on me.  In my defense, we moved twice during that pregnancy, my mother was diagnosed with cancer, and my daughter was born with Down syndrome, so I had other things on my mind.
    Once Upon a Time

    The story:  This is a round robin quilt.  We all chose a theme and a color scheme, and we all made a theme block as a focal point.  We had a foundation grid of cheap lining fabric marked off into 4" squares.  Each month the box would travel to a new person, who was responsible for making the equivalent of 6 4" blocks that elaborate the theme. It could be one big block or several smaller "filler blocks, or a combination.  Blocks would get moved around the grid a little every month but I had the final say on how they would get arranged.  It was a lot of fun because every member of the group had a different theme: gardens, a Colorado mountain town, camping in the mountains, the seasons of the year, school... those are the ones I can remember.

    My theme block.  I was in my applique phase at the time.
    A knight errant...
    a fearsome dragon...
    Jack and the beanstalk, the goose with the golden egg...
    the cat and the fiddle, the little dog, and the cow over the moon (the dish and spoon are real little trinkets sewn on there)...
    a treasure hoard...
    the princess and the pea.

    This quilt hung in my oldest son's room from about the time we moved here in 1999 until we remodeled his room to get rid of the ugly old paneling the quilt was helping to cover up.  It might have hung in Secundus' room for awhile too, I'm not sure.  After the remodel at some point it got shelved because some of the treasure needed to be stitched back on, and I remembered it a few weeks ago when I was doing the intervention on Primigenitus' room while he was deciding which college to go to.  So I stitched the treasure back on (I had saved it in a special little bottle in my sewing room!) and hung it up in the upstairs hallway by the staircase.  It had been put away so long, the girls didn't remember it.  And they love fairy tales!  So it's enjoying a new round of popularity.

    I couldn't possibly have made all these lovely blocks on my own, and I am honored and humbled that so many wonderful and amazingly creative ladies spent so much talent making them for me.

    Wednesday, May 16, 2012

    The Long Dark WIP Wednesday of the Soul

    Yesterday was one of those days.  When I decide I don't really like 6th grade all that much.  When I want to remind one of my children in a not very gentle voice that yelling "Calm down!" to his parents will have the opposite effect.  When my knee that I banged falling on the ice back in April is still swollen and painful, and my neck is becoming too painful to ignore.  When I'm convinced that all my work is going completely unappreciated when someone else gets to hand out the EIGHT gold medals on the National Latin Exam and I don't even get a mention.  When I am depressed by the dawning realization that Primigenitus is graduating and going off to college soon and I will be left with only the remaining three, very unfinished, kids.  When I make homemade bread and potato leek soup with shrimp for supper and no one comments other than to ask what's for dessert (and there isn't any because I spent the time on the bread and soup).  So last night, feeling that no good deed ever goes unpunished, I was pretty sure I was not going to be able to get to sleep easily.  One of the curses of middle age for me is insomnia.  So I just stayed up and sewed on Jack's Chain.
    After a little more sewing this morning (because Steve didn't let me pull an all-nighter), I now have ALL of the units (wheels and apple cores) needed for a twin-sized quilt.  I had made a lot of progress over the weekend that I reported Monday if you want the details of how it goes together.  The remaining units besides the ones on the wall are in the stack to the right of the iron in this picture.  Now I just need to lay them out, piece them into rows and piece the rows together.  That always takes a lot of stamina, but one more sleepless night would probably do it.
    The Framed In quilt is on the machine now, about half done.  I could finish it in an afternoon if I could stick with it for more than 10 minutes.
    Here is what I've been knitting and reading.  The Traveling Companion Shawl: I'm just starting the final lace border and the third ball of alpaca yarn.  I'm reading The History of the Ancient World to Steve at bedtime, but of course the disadvantage of reading ancient history at bedtime is that it's very easy to fall asleep and miss an entire chapter.  Of course, last night that disadvantage turned into an advantage, and Steve read to me about the Hittites and 19th Dynasty Egyptians and their marriage alliances and wars until I actually was able to fall asleep.  Don't get me wrong, I love this book!  It makes ancient history come alive.  Just maybe not quite so much after 11:00 p.m.

    Oh, and I kind of like the 6th graders again today.  (The 8th graders, now that's another story.)  I'm giving myself the afternoon off - no grocery shopping - so I can rest up and maybe sew a little more before I have to go back to pick up the kids.


  • Jack's Chain Quilt 
  • Framed In Quilt
  • Black Roses Stole - I finished the first half!  Now I'm starting the long boring part of the second half.  Not that boring is bad!  I like boring!
  • Traveling Companion Shawl - about 75% done
  • knitting cotton bath rug - no progress
  • knitting argyle-fest - no progress
  • spinning - working on blue laceweight Wensleydale - 2 bobbins full and probably another 1 or 2 to go (but this has been over several months so far!).  And I let Joyce learn to spin on it last Saturday.  I have a feeling she'll be buying a wheel sometime soon.

  • Linking up to Freshly Pieced for WIP Wednesday and Small Things for the Yarn-Along.

    Monday, May 14, 2012

    Design Wall Monday - canoes, arcs, apple cores and wheels

    Jack's Chain is much farther along.  Here are some of the elemental parts: I call them arcs and canoes.  Most of the 9-patches have been pieced now; I counted up and I need to make about 25 more total.
    After I have lots of arcs and canoes, I join them to the center hexagons to make 2 kinds of blocks: wheels (2 arcs and 2 canoes) and apple cores (2 arcs on opposite ends of the hexagon). It takes 4 wheel blocks, 3 apple cores and 1 end block (with 2 arcs and 1 canoe) to make a row with 8 hexagons.  I am making 8 rows like that.  Then I will join them with "sashing" rows of hexagons connected with 9-patches.  I have enough apple cores, wheels and end blocks to make 7 of my 8 rows, and I have actually pieced 2 of them.  I have also pieced 3 of the connector/ sashing rows.  I think I'm at the point where momentum starts kicking in, because I'm finding excuses to go over and sew for a few minutes here and there.  But getting them all laid out and joined together will be a bear!  I will have to turn and reposition after every 3" seam.
    Stash report:  no changes this week

    Fabric used this week: 0 yards
    Fabric used year to date: 40.8 yards
    Added this week: 0 yards
    Added year to date: 27.2 yards
    Net used for 2012: 13.6 yards

    Yarn used this week: 0 yards (still plugging away on 2 shawls at once)
    Yarn used year to date: 1956 yards
    Yarn added this week: 0 yards
    Yarn added year to date: 492 yards (all handspun, not purchased)
    Net used for 2012: 1464 yards

    Saturday, May 12, 2012

    Randomday - the post-auction edition

    So Friday afternoon a few hours before the Cedar Tree auction, "black tie encouraged," Steve and I realize he ripped the back out of his suit jacket a few months ago and we haven't replaced it yet.  In one of those "we'll laugh about this in years to come" scenes, we rush to Kohls and buy black pants and jacket that will do.  We still need to take him to a full-service department store for a more custom fitted suit, but we were respectable at the auction.  His "black tie" was Looney Tunes with a black background, very much approved by the student helpers.  I wore my black Travelsmith dress from the choir trip, and my Nautilina shawl.

    But we're definitely out of our league at an auction.  I always sit on my hands to make sure I don't accidentally bid on something.  The live auction did very, very well.  I was a little disappointed with how my two quilts in the silent auction did, although the live auction one went for $700.  But overall, the school raised a lot of money and we will have a multipurpose room and very much needed classroom space in about a year and a half!

    Today I went to quilting time at the church and took my spinning wheel so Joyce could try it out.  I have never taught anyone to spin and I'd forgotten some basic stuff like whether you loosen or tighten the Scotch tension as the bobbin fills.  But she made some of that wonderful beginner thick-and-thin yarn.  And I made another row of Jack's Chain blocks.

    Graduation party this afternoon.  I'm going to have to plan one of those myself pretty soon.  Ocean's 11 just finished playing on the TV.  I like a good heist movie when I'm fighting exhaustion.

    Thursday, May 10, 2012

    Spinach Noodle Bake

    It's the time for spring greens and early harvests from the garden, so I'm sharing one of our family's favorite recipes today.  All of the kids like it, except that the 2 girls don't really like the way I made it yesterday, which was with half mustard greens instead of all spinach.  But I used the mustard greens anyway, because we have a lot of them and they're just going to reseed themselves soon.  With us just picking up our first basket of the season from Grace's Garden, I'm pretty sure we're going to need to cook a lot of greens recipes.  This is one that works very well as a main dish.  It doesn't seem to matter to my meat-loving boys that it's vegetarian.
    I uprooted two plants of mustard that were growing wild by the blueberry bush and got a really big bunch.  I chopped it and cooked it in water, then picked up the rest of the recipe as usual.

    Spinach Noodle Bake

    2 8-oz packages frozen, chopped spinach (I used 1 package plus the aforementioned large bunch of mustard greens)
    1 can cream of mushroom soup (you could get all foodie on me and make your own white sauce, but this is what I use.  I'm plebeian that way.)
    Seasonings: Fines Herbes or Tarragon, garlic powder, seasoned salt, pepper, oregano, onion powder - all to taste
    shredded mozzarella or Swiss cheese - about 2-3 cups
    wide egg noodles - about 8 cups
    poppy seeds

    Cook the greens and then drain them; add the can of soup, and season to taste with seasoned salt, fines herbes, etc.  The fines herbes or tarragon adds a very faint licorice taste that works well with spinach and makes you think of elegant French dishes.

    Meanwhile, boil the noodles in plenty of water until al dente.  Drain them and put half of them in a greased or Pammed 9x13" casserole dish.  Cover the noodles with a layer of cheese, spread the spinach/greens mixture on top, and then top with the rest of the noodles and another layer of cheese.  Sprinkle the top with paprika and poppy seeds.  Bake at about 375 degrees for about 25 minutes or until heated through and sufficiently melty.

    Despite the fact that this looks like something that Calvin's mother (of Calvin and Hobbes) made him eat against his will, this is really tasty.  If you teach your kids young to eat it, they will grow up loving it.  It was on the menu at Primigenitus' 1st birthday party, and has been a favorite ever since.  I am not making this up!

    Wednesday, May 9, 2012

    WIP Wednesday and Yarn Along

    Time once again for the midweek progress report.  For the first time I'll be linking up to Yarn Along at Small Things, as well as WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced.
    My Framed-In Quilt is on the frame and being quilted!  I'm using an allover squiggle-loop-star that has become something of a signature quilting pattern for me; it's easy, quick, and a mix of traditional and whimsical, so it seems to work with many quilts.  And the Megaquilter is behaving itself, which is always nice.
    Jack's Chain is the other active quilt project at the moment.  I have a quilting day this Saturday at church and I hope to make a lot of progress then.  Also looking forward to Friday night, which is the Cedar Tree auction.  I have 3 quilts donated to it, and the signature quilt is in the live auction!
    In knitting, I have finally gotten to the pretty lace part - with beads! - of my Black Roses stole, also known as Lady MacBeth.  Another 30 rows or so and I'll be at the halfway point.  I have been reading back issues of National Geographic.  That was my Father-in-Law's Christmas present from us; he always enjoyed them.  Now they are coming back to us.  I'm always amazed at how fascinating the different articles are.  I liked the special issue on China from before the 2008 Olympics, and the story of all the archeology behind identifying Queen Hatshepsut's mummy.

    All my projects:

  • Framed In quilt - on the machine now.  It's my May UFO project
  • Jack's Chain quilt - plugging away a little at a time
  • Black Roses Stole - using Oral B superfloss to attach beads on the lace border.  I'm enjoying this part.
  • Traveling Companion Shawl - I'm past the halfway mark, I think. 
  • knitting cotton bath rug - no progress
  • knitting argyle-fest - no progress
  • startitis for both quilting and knitting continues to be a big temptation as the school year winds down and stress is everywhere
  • spinning - almost finished filling the second bobbin of Wensleydale.  I'm planning to take my wheel with me to quilting on Sat. so Joyce can try it out.

  • Tuesday, May 8, 2012

    A Burial

    ... or rather, a recycling.  The sad truth is that Immortal Poems of the English Language, edited by Oscar Williams, in a cheap paperback edition probably dating from the 1950's when my late mother bought her brother's old textbooks in a bulk lot, was never holding up very well when I knew and loved it back in the 1980's.  I was a romantic teenager then, and I picked it up out of the jumble of other anthologies and history books in the spare room.  "I like poetry... I can even write poetry!"  (I wrote very bad poetry).  So it sat beside my bed for about a year, and every night I would read a few pages.  It changed my life.
    It started with the medieval songs and ballads, many of them anonymous, most of them gory and depressing, with the quintessentially British love of the macabre.  Just ask Lord Randal or Tom O'Bedlam.  It seemed to me, as I was working my way through the archaic words, that the medieval world was much more rich and satisfying, albeit dangerous, than the modern one.  Every so often there would be a poem where some even more archaic words were mixed with the medieval ones -- stepping stones from ancient times.  I think this must have been the first time I ever consciously wanted to study Latin, although I'd certainly read Myths of Greece and Rome and loved the stories: but I hadn't yet been captivated by the language itself.

    Even the moderns, though I preferred the older writers and could never memorize poetry that had no meter or rhyme, had an inspiring way with words that told me they were kindred spirits.

    It took a long time to work my way through the Shakespeare section, but I felt that I had a good handle on the English sonnet form after that.

    "Could I revive within me
    Her symphony and song
    Weave a circle 'round him thrice
    And close your eyes with holy dread:
    For he on honeydew hath fed,
    And drunk the milk of paradise!"

    "The world is charged with the grandeur of God,
    It will flame out, like shining from shook foil..."

    "Earth, receive an honored guest;
    William Yeats is laid to rest:
    Let the Irish vessel lie
    Emptied of its poetry."

    Yes, I'll miss this little volume.  But the poems themselves are, indeed, immortal.