Saturday, May 30, 2009

Never the Same Again

Dear Mom,

Life as I know it will never be the same again.

If I think about it, really, our lives are never the same today as they were yesterday. We reach milestones every day. Some happy and some sad and some a combination of the two. Some are reached with out our even knowing it, like the last time I read "Goodnight Moon" or "Tow Truck Ted" aloud to one of my kids, or the last time they wanted to hold my hand when walking through a parking lot. And some of them cannot be ignored, like birthdays and weddings, and that first visit from the tooth fairy, and kindergarten graduation.
And a Driver's Education Learner Permit.

I know I don't want to drive him around forever. I know this is progress. I remember getting my Learner's Permit and how exciting it was. I also know that right now, I miss the days that I could buckle him into the stroller and take a long walk after nap time.



Thursday, May 28, 2009

Mrs. MacGregor Knits (and not much else)

Dear Mom,
The cupboards are nearly bare and the house is a mess. I still haven't done Monday's ironing and it is Thursday already. I think I vacuumed once or twice but only because the new floor looks too pretty to let it get dusty. All because I have been knitting like a mad woman to beat a design submission deadline. I did it. And no one has gone hungry or without underwear. Yet.
Blue Sky Alpaca yarn company is having a contest right now, and designs need to be submitted before the end of the month. A requirement of the contest is that the patterns must be available as free downloads on ravelry, so I needed to knit the garment, photograph it, write up the instructions, and link it all to my ravelry shop. The prize is more yarn (not that I am really needing anymore of that), but I am hoping for some exposure as a designer and maybe a connection with another yarn company. We'll see what happens.

In the meantime, I have had to replant some of my garden and put a taller fence around it. Call me Mrs. MacGregor. The bunnies have been feasting on all those tender plants. Shortly after the fence went up, I walked around to that side of the yard and a gang of three rabbits were surrounding the garden, staring at the new fencing. And then at me. I think they gave me dirty looks and kind of kicked up some extra dirt before hopping away.
And then(!), as I was knitting into the dark of night on the screened porch (thanks to my new ceiling fan and its bright light courtesy of the Zucchini Queen's dad), I looked up to find a cute little furry, masked face looking in at me. A raccoon. She looked at me like I had a lot of nerve sitting out on the porch way past my bedtime. I imagine that she has been visiting the porch via the doggie door. A Hav-A-Hart raccoon trap has been purchased. Maybe I'll catch a rabbit or three in it, too.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Roses are Red

Dear Mom,
Roses are red...

and yellow...

and pink...

and amber...

The first spring blooms are the most beautiful. The Japanese beetles will soon arrive and you can see that some of the foliage is already being eaten by some sneaky, camouflaged bugs. I am still waiting on blooms from the white roses; I never noticed, but I wonder if they always bloom later than the others.

Since the chickens love to eat Japanese beetles, I might have the guys around here devise some sort of trap to catch them inside the chicken run. If we could just get the beetles to fall into a bucket of water, then the chickens would have a constant supply to snack on!!

Roses are red
Violets are blue
Sugar is sweet
And so are you!

Love, Bonnie Jo

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Dear Mom,
Isn't it wonderful to spend the day on the kitchen floor in your sundress and bare feet? Drawing and coloring pictures of elves? Humming to yourself? Being in the moment? If only every day.

Love, Wendy

Friday, May 22, 2009

Home Improvement

Dear Mom,
My Hero's knees may never be the same again and I think I strained a long lost and deeply buried gut muscle. We squatted, lifted, sawed, dragged, hammered and oomphed, and My Hero probably taught our kids but hopefully not our neighbor's kids some new words, but we now have a beautiful new floor in our family room. And we did it ourselves!

I am so proud of us!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

My Knitting Sisters

Dear Mom,

Mostly every week through the school year, but less often in the summertime, I spend Wednesdays with the dearest group of friends. They are so good for me that it is hard for me to come up with the right words to describe us when we are together.

This week, Carol treated us to lunch at her house. It was a perfect, beautiful day and we spent our time together on her back deck. Sunshine, iced tea, sleeping dogs, buzzing bees, flowers, laughter, shared creations, book discoveries, yarn. Carol served a delicious lunch of Spinach Pie from one of the Barefoot Contessa's cookbooks, a salad with tomato, basil and mozzarella and fresh fruit. We had a Strawberry Rhubarb dessert. All light, healthy and tasty. Every bite.

Carol surprised us all with gift tags to enclose with our hand knit gifts. She custom made a set of these for each of us, using colorful ribbons and vintage knitting photos. I told her I love them too much to give away, but she has promised us we can re- order!

I think this one is my favorite.



Wednesday, May 20, 2009

There's No Place Like Home

Dear Mom,
My friend WON an all-expenses paid trip to Nice, France!! Instead of taking me, she chose to take her husband and she left me to take care of her house and kids. So, for the past six days, David and I have been housesitting-kid watching. We were "responsible" for 2 houses, 6 kids, 3 dogs, several fish and a leopard spotted gecko. During the 6 days, there were 6 baseball games (3 of which were called due to rain, thank goodness), 2 afternoons of swim team practice for 3 children, a band concert, a birthday, a friend who spent the night (which really means all night movies and video games), a morning of babysitting for yet another neighbor's daughter and a photo shoot. All of "our" children made it to their events on time. We cheered when they won and commiserated when they lost. The children woke up on time and were sent to school with a hug and love. They were fed breakfast and dinner and lunches were packed. We did homework. We baked chocolate chip banana bread twice and Mississippi Mud Bars. We even staged photo ops and daily uploaded pictures to their parents in Nice. I washed baseball uniforms, re-sewed a patch that fell off of a uniform during a grand slide and I did laundry for 6 children. It was truly one of the funnest weeks that David and I have ever had.
But I'm tired and I am going to go to bed. I get to sleep in my own bed tonight.
And welcome home, Kim and Joey! We really missed you! There truly is no place like home!
Love, Wendy

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A Knitter is born (sort of)

Dear Mom-

The Young Lady was introduced to a "knitting machine" at a sleep over last Friday night. Never mind that I am a human knitting machine, that I have been trying to turn her into a knitter with every sort of knitting gadget, cute knitting needles, fun tape measures and colorful yarns her whole life, (and we're not even speaking of what I hope was absorbed in utero) and that in desperation, I even let her take a crochet class, heaven help me. Nope, it took a plastic knitting toy, introduced at someone else's house, away from the hopeful, encouraging eyes of her mother to hook her. No pun intended.

I picked the sleep deprived child up Saturday morning and once we were in the car, the first words out of her mouth were, "I want to use the money I am saving for a Nintendo DSi and buy a knitting machine." Be still my heart.

Fearing that any delay would break the spell, I put the pedal to the metal and drove her home to get her money and then immediately departed for Michael's. We found what she was looking for and then shopped. For Yarn. Together. For HER.

She spent most of her waking hours (and some when she should have been sleeping) over the weekend cranking away on her machine. We had to take it away on Sunday night because she was "knitting" way past her bedtime. (I couldn't look her in the eye when I did that, having knit way past my bedtime more times than I can say.)

I even let her look through my stash yarn, only warning her that she had to ask me before using anything. I now have a scarf made from some alpaca I told her she could use that is 12 feet long, and I have been told that IF I find yarn I like, I should buy it and she will make me some leg warmers.


just look at that speed!

If you're lucky, maybe you'll get some leg warmers, too.



Monday, May 18, 2009

A Visit From A Fairy

Dear Mom,
On the eve of the Diva's 9th birthday, we were visited by a fairy.
Happy birthday to the Diva!
Love, Wendy

Friday, May 15, 2009

My Window Box

Dear Mom,

Yesterday, Bonnie emailed me with some questions about the window box I have outside the kitchen window. The answers got me to thinking about my window box and its history.

My Hero and his brother, Bill, built it for me on a whim about 10 years ago. Bill and Cheryl had been here for a weekend visit and really probably planned to be on the road when the project started. Bill had just made some window boxes for Cheryl and the plans were fresh in his memory. After some quick measurements were taken and an even quicker trip to the lumber yard, the sawing and drilling began and a very short time later, my window box was born.

I've never painted it, preferring a rustic window box as the stage for the flowers growing there.

This simple window box makes me very happy. I enjoy planting it and watching the flowers fill in over the summer and trail down over the edges. I love seeing the flowers peeking in the kitchen window and looking out at them as I sit at the kitchen table.

The window box also went above and beyond the call of duty, a testament to its sturdy construction, less than a year after it was built, when, on his first 4th of July, we found the dog perched dangerously on the window box, trying to escape the fireworks. We didn't realize until we came in after the fireworks had ended. As pitiful as he was, we didn't rescue the poor animal until a few photos had been taken.

You can see the concern and sympathy radiating out of the kids faces through the kitchen window. Fortunately, the dog has never had a problem with fireworks after that first initiation.

Today the window box is in its youthful, hopeful stage, not quite filled in and as pretty as it will be, but pleasing and happy and enjoying the sunshine.



Thursday, May 14, 2009

Knitting Content

photo taken by Debbie on her Iphone

Dear Mom,

There hasn't been much knitting content on this blog (from me) lately. Most of what I've been knitting is for future publications and I am not free to show it off yet. Rest assured that I am knitting. A lot.

I see the July issue of Creative Knitting magazine is up and on their website. If you click on the link and scroll down on that page you will see a photo for my Spiral Skirt design. Clicking on the photo will enlarge it. I made this skirt for myself last summer with Rowan Denim yarn. I love this skirt, and the way the denim yarn fades with washing and wearing just like denim jeans. I hope to make another for myself. I have some white cotton in my stash that I could use, and think it would be fun to custom dye the skirt after it has been knit.

As for the rest of the knitting projects, I will show them off when I am free to do so.



Wednesday, May 13, 2009

My Mother's Day

Dear Mom,
Traditionally, I spend my Mother's Day planting my vegetable garden and filling pots and planters with annuals. This year was no different. The weather was perfect and my time gardening flew by. In addition to the regulars (tomatoes, green beans, romaine lettuce, spinach, cabbage, basil and chives) I added cantaloupe, watermelon and cucumbers. I don't normally grow cucumbers because we really don't eat that many, but my thought this year is that the more I grow the less I buy. Any surplus can be shared with neighbors or donated. Our church has a large garden and the crops are donated to local food pantries.
We also expanded our growing area to use more of the yard, putting a trellis of sorts on two sides of the mini barn and planting blackberries and seedless red grapes. It will be interesting to see how they do. Also, along the back we added 4 Colorado Blue Spruce trees for privacy. The trees are small right now, so it will be awhile before they fulfill their mission, but we are patient.
My window box is filled with a slightly different combination each year. This year I have red verbena, a yellow trailing vine I haven't seen before, red dianthus and white snapdragons. Larger pots that live in mostly shady areas have red and white striped impatiens and asparagus ferns. The garden is lined with bright yellow marigolds.
Last year, I was smart enough to write down exactly how many and what kind of plants I purchased. I also kept a record of what I planted in each of the planters. I used that list as my guide this year. I went to the nursery with list in hand, knowing exactly how many plants and of what type I needed, making substitutions if something different called out to me. In the past I was so overwhelmed by the possibilities and with trying to remember what I needed that what was supposed to be fun (my annuals are my Mother's Day gift from the kids) turned into a headache. This year was LOTS better.
All that digging, squatting, lifting, bending, hoeing and raking left me a bit achy by the end of the day, but it was a good kind of tired and achy.
Now to keep things watered and hopefully watch them grow. And I can't wait til that first summer tomato is ripe and ready to be picked and eaten, right there in the garden, still warm from the sunshine, its juice dripping down my chin.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Meg's and Marge's Big Adventure

Dear Mom,
Meg and Marge were invited to a 4-H meeting for a presentation on small animal showmanship by two senior 4-H members. This was the first time in a cage for Marge! When in came time for the presentation, the cage was set upon a table. Meg and Marge appeared to be watching as the rabbits were demonstrated. The chickens received a few of giggles and finger pointing.

When it was their turn, they were very cooperative (I was a little worried about Marge, but she held very still)!

Their wings were displayed and they were tilted in different directions to show various feathers and chicken anatomy. Meg is so adorable that most of the young girls in the club wanted to pet her after the meeting.

When the presentation was over, I rewarded their good behavior with corn (always a favorite). Once home, the cage door was opened and and they ran to join Golda and Gloria in the yard. They settled into their usual holes against the side of the house and took long, relaxing dust baths.
They clucked softly together; I think Marge and Meg were telling Golda and Gloria all about their big adventure!
Love, Bonnie Jo

Monday, May 11, 2009

Chickadee Mama

Dear Mom,
I was excited when I noticed a chickadee making a nest in the gourd bird house I made!
Isn't she cute?!

I can't wait to hear the chirping hatchlings. I wonder how much longer it will be...

Love, Bonnie Jo

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day ii

Dear Mom,
I love you!
Love, Wendy

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Happy Mother's Day

Dear Mom,

Thank you.



Friday, May 8, 2009

Dreams and Prayers

Dear Mom,
All night long last night, I dreamed about parallel parking. I tossed and turned, woke up, and thought about parallel parking until I fell asleep and dreamed about it more! We had practiced that afternoon on at least 10 cars in town. Practice makes perfect...he passed the driving skills test today and scored a perfect parallel park, even using the big, clunky mini-van!
I was told by another mom that one of the hardest things she ever did was watch her child drive away for the first time unattended in the vehicle. Without a doubt, I will be doing a lot of extra praying in the days and months to come.
Right now, I'm exhausted from parallel parking all night, and in shock that my child can now legally drive! I think I'll go outside and spend some quiet time with my chickens...
Love, Bonnie Jo

Another Use for Ribbons

Dear Mom,

A worn out watch band + an abundance of ribbon=

I've been having fun swapping out ribbons to coordinate with what I am wearing. Way more fun than that brown leather I was buckling to my wrist everyday.

Plus there is the bonus of having a new excuse to buy more ribbons!

I find myself wearing more jewelry around my wrists in the summer. I guess because they are not bundled under warm sweaters. Last summer the Young Lady and I made these:

We tore bandannas into 1-inch strips, soaked them in water and them twisted them tightly. We tied them around our wrists and ankles and let them dry. The longer we wore them and the more frayed they became, the better they looked.

Carefree summer "jewelry" for easy summer days.



Thursday, May 7, 2009

In My Ears

Dear Mom,

I have a little Ipod shuffle that I keep loaded with audio books that I borrow from the library. With so little on television ( I only watch 3 programs, and those will be winding down for the season in the next week or two) , I listen to books when there isn't anything on worth watching in the evening, while doing housework, and while knitting.
I just finished listening to Paths of Glory, by Jeffrey Archer. Paths of Glory is the
story of George Mallory, who led the British expeditions to Mount Everest and may have been the first man to reach the summit. We will never know. After listening to the story, I want to believe he was. The book is written as fiction, but is based on the factual events of George Mallory's life. Adventure, love story and history all combine to make this an entertaining book to listen to and I'll bet just as good to read. It is hard to explain how I could be moved to tears by a story I already know the ending to (the prologue takes care of that), but I was. Am. I loved it.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Cinco De Mayo ii

Dear Mom,
Wow! Kim is impressive!! If she ever gets to Mexico, she can order beer, find a bathroom and perhaps know when she should have gone to bed. The only thing I remember from Spanish class was how much fun it was being naughty with Mike Mitchell!! Hey, I'm 42 years old now and I have capitalized on that naughty fun and can order a beer in my native tongue wherever I am!

Too bad I've lost track of Mike!! It would be great to order a beer (or two!), celebrate Cinco De Mayo and talk old Spanish days with him (I have never laughed so hard in my life as I always did with Mike Mitchell!! Yep, we were some kind of naughty!!)!!
I am terrible with uploading/downloading, especially from YouTube, but click on the link and you can enjoy some great Cinco De Mayo music!! Arriba!!!!

Love, Wendy

Cinco De Mayo

Dear Mom,

After all those years of high school Spanish and then a tiny bit more in college, I can't remember how to greet you en espanol other than to say Hola. Those classes were a long time ago, but I've recently had a refresher while helping the Young Man review vocabulary words for his freshman Spanish class. I should remember how to do more than ask where a bathroom is (which for some reason, in high school, seemed like something very important that I should know), or what the time is. My Hero, it won't surprise you to know, could order 2 beers. (I could say Coca-Cola in my best Spanish accent, but you can smile and say that anywhere and get what you are asking for.) So between us, should we find ourselves lost in Mexico without a translator, we will know what time it is wherever we are, have a couple of beers (that I don't drink) and find a bathroom.
I can't entirely blame the years for my poor conversational Spanish. Less than a year or two after my Last Spanish Class, I found myself on the Oral Surgery rotation while I was in the Dental Hygiene program. We did rotations to different clinics in the dental school as part of our education. We mostly did more observing than any hands on work, but we weren't there to get in the way and had to help out if called into action. Anyway, there I was in the Oral Surgery Clinic. And let me digress once more to say that "they" spent quite a good bit of time lecturing us on how NOT TO FAINT before they actually let us in, which in my mind does nothing but make me feel like I might faint. Okay, back to oral surgery which at this point you are wondering how this could possibly tie in to Spanish class. It does. I am watching many teeth being extracted. I am trying to not think about fainting, which I totally wouldn't have had to think about AT ALL had I not been given the lecture. And then a woman is seated in the chair. Her turn. NO speak English. Very frightened. Can I think of ONE WORD en espanol to reassure the poor woman? NO. I just tried to communicate with my eyes and facial expressions, which were probably not so reassuring since
1. I really didn't know what was going to happen to her
2. I felt bad for her not being able to understand any English and
3. I was thinking about not fainting.

In honor of Cinco de Mayo, I offer this recipe for a Mexican Potato Frittata. I admit to being a better knitter than I am a cook. Not that I am a bad cook, I just can't manage too much at once while I cook. With that said, this is a tasty, healthy, simple recipe and a nice change of pace from tacos and enchiladas.

Mexican Potato Frittata
1 t olive oil
12 oz. red skinned potatoes, cut in 1/2 inch cubes
6 large eggs
1 (11 oz.) jar salsa ( you can choose the strength you prefer- I usually get mild or medium because I can't take the heat- My Hero adds Tabasco sauce. Because he can.)
1/2 t salt
1/4 t pepper
1/4 c sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
1 medium tomato

Preheat oven to 425.

In a non-stick skillet with an oven safe handle ( I use my cast iron skillet), heat olive oil over med-hi heat. Add potatoes and cook, covered, until potatoes are tender and golden brown, about 10 min, stirring occasionally.

In medium bowl, beat eggs with 1/4 c salsa, salt and pepper. Stir in cheese, set aside.

Dice tomato and stir into remaining salsa.

Stir egg mixture into potatoes in the skillet and cook over med-hi heat, covered, for 3 minutes or until egg mixture begins to set around edges.

Remove cover and place skillet in oven; bake 4-6 minutes, until frittata is set.

To serve, transfer frittata from skillet to serving platter or cutting board (I never do that part- I just serve straight out of the skillet- real fancy that way) and cut into wedges. Top with salsa/tomato mixture.

Makes 4 main dish servings. Each serving has about 235 calories, 14g protein, 20g carbohydrates, 11g fat (4g sat fat) 327mg cholesterol and 795 mg sodium.

Note: I imagine that it is easy to cut the sodium by not adding the salt. And using 2% cheese would cut back on the fat content, but I did make a note to myself on the recipe NOT to use egg-beaters. I must have tried that and it didn't work.

Happy Cinco De Mayo!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Breaking news

Dear Mom,
I interrupt my regularly scheduled vacuuming to bring you this Breaking News.
News so exciting that my head hurts from the adrenaline rush. News that when I received it, caused my heart to pound like it does when I am Sweatin' to the Oldies. Lightening bolts out of my fingers kind of news......

A major yarn company has chosen one of my designs to publish!!

Details to follow as they come available.
That is all.
Returning to my vacuum cleaner now.

The Weekend

Dear Mom,
I did finish this sweater ( my design ) over the weekend. A good intermediate weather type sweater. I am happy with it, but there are a couple of details I will tweek when I make it again.
I also took these pictures over the weekend. I brought this columbine with me from our first house, and I am sure it came from your yard before that.

And check out the bumblebee. I just love this zooming in on a zoomed in picture. These are those great big Hindenberg bees. I think they are fun, but Bumper wants to protect the yard from them. He will launch himself at impressive heights and speed (especially for a thick, 10 year old dog) to try to get these bees. Once he has had a successful catch, he spits them out quickly and guards the wounded prey until he gets bored with it. I warn anyone to approach at risk when he is protecting his catch. The thing could be dead and pulverized by his paws, but he won't let anyone near. You would think it was a t-bone steak or something.



Friday, May 1, 2009


Dear Mom,

With my rain gauge showing we've had about 3 inches since Monday, the yard looks like this:
The grass. is. high. I would measure its depth like we do with the snow, but I might lose the ruler. I am hoping we get a break in all this rain long enough for the yard to dry out so I can climb aboard John, Dear and MOW!!!! At this point it may take mowing twice just to get through it all.

The good thing is that with all the rain keeping me inside, I've knit almost an entire sweater in about a week. I think I started this one last Thursday. I may finish it this weekend. It will be a tunic for me, my design.

Last Sunday when it was sunny, warm and windy, The Young Lady and My Hero took the dog to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (aka, the track) for the Annual Mutt Strutt. This dog walk around the track benefits the Indianapolis Humane Society. Between the stress of the car ride and walking around the 2 1/2 mile oval, Bumper was exhausted. I think it took him until mid week to recover. The plan next year is to take him on the short walk, which I think is just in the pit lanes. Here they are, on the "yard of bricks" at the finish line.

Today was ANOTHER half day of school. Add all these half days together and I swear the summer could be 2 weeks longer. You might think that coming home after only a half day would be a happy thing. It was for some.

But not for everyone.

15 year old, stalked by mamarazzi

Have a happy weekend!