On the downward side of October

This fall has just gotten away from me completely.  Life has been busy with work, the fashionista living at home again, the Little Buddy’s weeklong visit, pottery classes, cooking classes, sewing, etc.  Sheesh!  I need a break.

I recently finished a memory apron.  I am very pleased with the way it turned out.  I have not yet been able to give it to the recipient, so will post pics another time.  If you are my friend on FB, then you can see the pics there.  The recipient’s grandmother taught her to cook many dishes and a year or so ago the grandmother died from cancer.  So I had the idea of making her a memory apron because she cooks a lot.  I made an iron on transfer of a photo of the grandmother standing at the sink with a handful of basil.  This photo was on her blog when she wrote an entry about the two of them making pesto.  Then at the bottom of the apron, I wrote the names of the some of the foods they made together using a fabric marker.  Pics to be posted soon.

I promised the fashionista that I would sew a Marie Antoinette costume for Halloween.  So that is what I will be doing this weekend.  Silly me for volunteering.

The Little Buddy visited for a week at the beginning of October.  We had a wonderful week.  Playing at the park.  Going to the pumpkin patch.  Went to the zoo.  He got to sit in a fire truck.  He fed a giraffe and then the giraffe turned its head and licked the Little Buddy!  He thought it was hilarious.  Went costume shopping and he chose Buzz Lightyear and looks darling in it.  Took him clothes shopping.  Got his picture taken.

The fashionista and I met the Little Buddy’s dad in St. Louis — halfway for both of us.  The day we returned him we hung out in St. Louis for the afternoon.  It was fun, but it sure made for a long day.  We ate lunch at Joe’s Crab Shack.  Went grocery shopping at Trader Joe’s.  Went to the Arch.  Then headed back to ICT.

Fashionista at Joes Crab Shack

Little Buddy and Buzz


Fall — Already????

Wow, I have been busy lately!  I have thought about updating the blog, but then get busy with something else and fail to get it done.

Lots of new things going on.  Some great, some not so great.  The fashionista decided to come home from the east coast.  Things were just not working out for her there, and of course, a week before I needed to send her money for the trip home my car died.  I had gone with a friend to see a sneak preview of Eat Pray Love (which, btw, I loved the book and surprisingly, I also loved the movie — usually I don’t see movies of books I read) and when she dropped me off at my car, it was dead as a doornail.  Had to have it towed to the mechanic and it required a new starter.  Those things are not cheap!  And then the fashionista had a near miss on her trip home — she needed two new front tires — she had a flat at her apt.  and the father of a friend took it off, took her to get a new tire, and then put the new one on.  She later bought a second tire for the front before heading home.  Just west of St. Louis, she pulled over because she heard a scraping noise and she couldn’t tell where it was coming from.  Turned out all but one lug nut had come off the front tire on the passenger side!  But — we got it towed and fixed in under 3 hours and she was back on the road.  That was definitely a God thing!!

It is good to have her home — in some ways.  I was getting used to living by myself, so I am having to adjust to having her around again.  But in other ways it is nice.  We enjoy a lot of the same things, and we do quite a few things together.  We went to the First Friday music crawl at the beginning of September and sat on the patio at Oeno’s and sipped wine.  We went to the Final Friday art crawl this past Friday evening.  There was faculty show at the pottery studio where I take a class, so we stopped in there.  Then we headed to Old Town and met up with one of the fashionista’s friends and her mother.  We went to several galleries, and then sat on the patio at Oeno’s and chatted over a drink. 

One of my friends and I started a Tuesday night cooking group at our church.  It has been fun, but a lot of preparation and work.  The fashionista has been going with me and helping out with the prep work, so that has been nice. 

So Monday and Tuesday nights are taken up with classes. Wednesday is a free night.  And I need one tonight.

This weekend I am meeting the Little Buddy’s dad in St. Louis. The Little Buddy is on fall break from Pre-K the first week in October, so he is coming to visit Meme.  YAY!  I am really looking forward to it.  It is hard to believe he is in PRE-K!!  Time really flies.  And he plays organized soccer now — uniform and all.  I am taking a week of vacation and have all kinds of fun things planned.  Shopping for a Halloween costume, going to the pumpkin patch, the park, the space museum.  He loves to play games, so I got out all the under 5 games.  Updated my toys.  I have a play date arranged with another 4 yo boy.  It will be a great week.

Knitting projects — right now I am knitting a lace scarf.  I have two aprons cut out to sew.  Last week I made a cute quilted bag for a ten year old, but forgot to take a photo of it. And the fashionista picked out a pattern and fabric for a Marie Antoinette costume for Halloween. I have lots on my plate at the moment.

Trimmed bowl before bisque firing

Latte mug pre-trimming

Homemade pizza – before baking

Homemade pizza - after baking

              And homemade pizza – after baking! Yum!

Awaiting the arrival of the “cold” front

Temps have still been topping 100+ here in the middle of the US.  By Sunday we are supposed to get a reprieve for several days and get down to the upper 80s.  I am definitely ready.  I am struggling to keep my outside vegetation alive.

This past Saturday was the event I helped with.  My food was a success at the VIP hour.  Here is what I made for my plate.

Pea crostini, cucumber slices with hummus, and caprese skewers

I think, though, that as much as I love food, the catering world is not for me.  I spent my entire day working on all of it for about 150 people for a one hour portion of the event.  I did not have much left over.  It was great fun, and a new experience, and I loved doing it, but I believe I will keep my day job. 

The benefit was a great success.  There was a $700 capital outlay — most everything was donated — and the benefit raised $7,000.  It was awesome.  And everyone who attended seemed to have a great time.

I was exhausted when it was over, but then it was on to the next thing.  Some missionary friends were in town from Nairobi, and an early evening picnic was planned, so back to the kitchen I went.  I made a summer ranch pasta salad, a caprese salad, and walnut fudge brownies with an espresso kick.  No photos.

Monday evening I had a pass for two to a sneak preview of Eat Pray Love.  I had read the book and was very interested to see the movie.  It was very well done, I thought.  My friend took me back to the office at the end of the evening to get my car and it had died.  I thought it was the battery, and the next day I tried to jump start it to no avail.  It is now sitting in the parking lot and my mechanic is supposed to tow it today to the shop.  I hope it can be fixed before the weekend — especially since it is now Thursday afternoon……

Got a call from the fashionista.  She has been in PA for a year now, and is finally starting to do some fun things.  Saturday she went to the beach on the Atlantic City, NJ boardwalk and had a great time.  Today she called me and said, “Guess what I’m looking at?  The U.S. Capitol on my left and the National Monument on my right!”  She and a friend drove to DC to spend the day at the Smithsonian.  When she was in elementary school, I took her to a Smithsonian “Americana” traveling exhibit that came through St. Paul, and she was hooked.  She has always wanted to go to the Smithsonian.  She is having a great time, and sent me a couple of pics.



At the Smithsonian 8-12-2010

A Few Days of “ME” Time

I had scheduled a couple of vacation days at the end of the week because I was supposed to have my Little Buddy visit for a couple of days, but that fell through.  And it turned out to be just as well.  We would have spent two days in the car and about 1-1/2 days for the actual visit.  New arrangements have been made, and I will have him for an entire week in mid to late September.  I am much happier with that plan, but I was looking forward to seeing him.  I went ahead and took the days off anyway, and have been enjoying my leisure time.  I spent some time reorganizing my kitchen, organizing projects, purging some things that have not been used in awhile, shopping, cooking, catching up on tivoed cooking shows and things like that.

Last night I picked my mother up and we went to Final Friday for a bit.  There was a ceramics exhibit I wanted to see at a local gallery and it was the last night for it.  There was an awesome vintage and handmade bicycle exhibit at one of the galleries. I took some photos.

The bicycle in the middle has a tooled leather seat and tooled leather handgrips! They were all very cool!

One gallery had a “nerdy artist” book sale and we browsed the books.  My mother bought a book of Robert Browning poetry and several magazines.  I purchase a Monet book for the fashionista.  She loves Monet.

Then we bought some vanilla latte gelato — which was excellent — and sat outside in the square listening to some music.  There were girls doing hula hoop tricks to drum beats and then they twirled and danced with fire sticks.  That was pretty unusual. It was a nice evening to get out.  It had been pretty hot yesterday, but when the sun began to go down, it cooled off a bit.

I adopted another soldier recently, and this morning I took my first box off to the post office.  I did not sponsor anyone last year as one of the fashionista’s good friends was in Afghanistan and we sent care packages to him.  So the soldier I just adopted is a medic and one of his requests was for candy and teddy bears for the children over there that they treat. Awww. I know space is limited over there and I was thinking about how to get teddy bears off in the mail and then I had a brilliant idea.  The fashionista has a box full of Beanie Babies that is still in the basement.  So I called her and she agreed to donate all but about 5 that have sentimental value to her.  They are soft and small and colorful, so I hope that works out.  I mailed off three in my first box along with a bag of Jolly Rancher hard candies.  I figure I can send three or four each month. The post office has changed the customs forms and I ended up writing out a list of the items and quantity and price on a plain sheet of paper.  The postal clerk told me it will be easier if I just do that each month and bring in five copies along with one custom form.  The forms only have about 4 lines and toiletries (which are needed items) have to be listed individually.  She said I can group candy, cookies, books, etc. but some things have to be specifically itemized. I told her I preferred the old forms and she agreed with me.

So, this month’s soldier box is done and on its way to Afghanistan.  School supplies have been purchased to donate.  Each year my church supplies a local elementary school with a backpack filled with school supplies for each child.  The church purchases 300-400 backpacks and they are distributed on a Sunday and then filled and returned the following Sunday.  School starts a little earlier this year, so a list of needed supplies was emailed and I have already purchased my items.  And since I was already buying school supplies, I bought extra for the city-wide collection effort and to put in my Operation Christmas Child shoebox. It is a good feeling to have those things done. 

Now on to some knitting and sewing!

Wish it was Sunday

That’s my fun day – la la la la la. We finally got some rain over the weekend — and lots of sticky humidity.  But the rain was definitely a blessing.


Fusilli with sauteed tomatoes, pecorino, and fresh basil

Fusilli with sauteed tomatoes, pecorino and fresh basil

This is the only food photo I have from the weekend.  My oven is on the fritz and I am waiting for either a new element or a new appliance.  And of course since I don’t have an oven to use, I want to bake.  Go figure.  We always want what we can’t have. 

The place I usually buy my Lebanese groceries from is currently closed, so I went to my first alternate location on Saturday morning.  I picked up some chickpeas, small containers of hummus and laban, a carton of feta, and several small eggplants.  I also stopped by a truck selling produce by the side of the road and purchased tomatoes, zucchini, and cantaloupe.  I intended to go out to the farm market, but remembered that it was “tomato day” and figured it would be too crowded — and later I heard from a friend that it was, so it was just as well I came across the lone seller by the side of the road. I went to a local ceramics supply shop and picked up a carving tool, a flexible rib and a glaze stamp. Returned library books I am finished with.

The rest of the weekend I just puttered around.  I made a ratatouille.  I cut out the apron for the fashionista — finally! Yesterday I set up the sewing machine and listened to several podcasts while sewing — the apron is nearly done.  One evening of sewing and it will be finished. I finished knitting a brown facecloth. Played with the pug. Not much going on at the moment.

Trying to Beat the Heat!

We are having a spell of hot hot hot weather here in the middle of the U.S. It has been around 80 when I get up in the mornings.  I try not to listen too much to the weather news — there are two pieces of information I really never want to know.  The wind chill in the winter and the heat index in the summer!

The pug and I have not been able to get out and walk at the park at all. It is just too hot to take her out except to potty.

Pottery class is going well.  The pot I made my first night of class in June has been glazed and fired. I also threw a mug and this past Monday I sanded it and put it in the firing room to be bisque fired.

First glazed pot


Mug 7-16


A somewhat humorous event occurred in class.  I had thrown a cylinder and I was trying to put a collar on it and it collapsed in two places due to a thin spot in the clay.  Just as I was about to trash it, my instructor said “You need to keep that.  Controlled collapses are so cool.” So I thought — well, if that’s what you see, then fine by me.

The more time I spend in the studio the more I enjoy it.  I want to create some stamps for stamping designs on some of the pieces I make.  The other evening I threw a small cylinder that I really did “control collapse”  at the top, a small vase, and another mug body.  I think I may try to get over there Friday after work and pull a handle for the mug.

Sunday I made another yummy salad.  Tuna, cucumber, and avocado salad with fresh dill. It is definitely a full meal salad.

Tuna cucumber avocado salad


In early August I am helping with a benefit and I agreed to prepare three appetizers for the VIP hour.  My appetizers will be paired with white wine, so of course I am doing veggies!  I think most of the other appetizer stations will be done by local businesses and caterers, so mine have to be top notch since I am the only non-business person.  Hope I can measure up!  I am doing cucumber slices with a dollop of my homemade hummus.  The second will be caprese skewers.  And I have been toying with doing a crostini for my third and playing around with different ideas.  And this is what I am pretty set on — a sweet pea crostini.

Sweet pea crostini

Excuse the bite marks in the photo.  It was near my dinnertime when I made this and I was so hungry that I bit into it and then thought to photograph it!

Suddenly I have several of the books on my summer reading list to get through.  I was trying to space them all out, but now I have several I am trying to read.  My lunchtime book at the office is The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman.  My evening book at home is Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese.  And next up is Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok — and another whose title I cannot think of at the moment.

I am down to finishing the sleeves on the striped toddler cardigan.  Still knitting dishcloths.  I have not been terribly motivated recently in the knitting department.  I decided to start knitting a man’s ribbed scarf and I got out the needles and the yarn and cast on and knit about 5 inches and decided I don’t want to make one right now after all.  I just don’t have a project in mind at the moment.  And that is an unusual occurrence.  Perhaps it is because there are so many other things I have going or want to do at this time.


Italian Tomato-Bread Salad

on this salad.  Oh my goodness!  It is absolutely delicious!  Sorry that the photo is a little fuzzy.  Fresh chopped tomato, capers, red onion, roasted red pepper in oil, salt, pepper, red wine vinegar, olive oil, and dry bread. I am in love.  I didn’t put the fresh basil on it, which would have added another dimension to the flavor, but it didn’t need it.

My findings at the farm market this past Saturday included — yellow squash, baby zucchini, tomatoes, eggplant, green beans, peaches — much more there, but this is what I came home with.  I made meatless koosa (Lebanese stuffed yellow squash) and what I call farm market vegetable stew which is loosely based on ratatouille.

Meatless Koosa

Farm market vegetable stew


I had a fairly quiet weekend.  It was very rainy.  Took the pug to the park during the rain breaks.  Went to a cookout Friday evening for a bit.  Spent most of that holding a young couple’s 3 month old baby — she was such a doll!  Sunday afternoon I went with a friend to see Eclipse — got lost in the Forks fantasy world for a couple of hours.  Cooked, knitted, worked on some other projects, read.  I am nearly finished with the latest Frances Mayes book that is on my summer reading list, Every Day in Tuscany.  Reading it makes me want to go back to Italy/Sicily one of these days.  Will have to add that to my bucket list.  I talked to both girls over the weekend.

Monday evening was the start of a new pottery class.  I threw the body of a mug that I determined is a keeper.  I would like to go to open studio time on Friday, but instead I will be at the office.  I hope to take several more Fridays here and there to get in some extra time on the wheel.  So it will be Monday before I can pull and add the handle and trim it for bisque firing.  And I need to glaze the little pot that I made my first night in class at the beginning of June.  Since that time, I have been working on technique and haven’t made anything I wanted to keep.  I took a small bag of my clay home as I keep thinking that I want to make some clay pendants and beads for jewelry one of these days. One more thing on my lengthy to do list.