Tuesday, November 15, 2011

I'd Rather Be...

Ever play that game "I'd rather be"... you know, the one where you state things you'd rather be doing instead of the thing you are actually doing? Example: You are washing the dishes, you think "I'd rather be weeding than doing the dishes" (note: I HATE washing the dishes!).

Okay, now your turn. You are stuck in traffic on the 5 freeway at rush hour, you think to yourself "I'd rather be..." Now fill in the ... (go ahead, it's fun, you can even write your responses down in the comments below so we can all laugh at them). I'll go first. I am stuck in rush hour traffic and I think to myself, "I'd rather be... washing dishes!" Ha!

Okay here's the next prompt: You just got home from 8 hours at work, and you find yourself sitting in front of at least 2 hours worth of tedious homework. You think to yourself, "I'd rather be..." Again, let me go first. I think to myself, "I'd rather be... baking cookies." And guess what? I did!!!

Up until about three weeks ago, I thought about all the things I could be doing when I was free from that blasted homework, and now I am free!!! And I can bake cookies, and watch TV (and I watch ALLOT of it), clean (which I do more than I thought I'd be doing), and read (for pleasure, this time). It is so nice. Take tonight for example. I am feeling a bit under the weather, so I made a light dinner, and thought to myself, "I really want chocolate chip cookies......well why not?" so I did :)

I'm glad I went back to school. I'm glad I chose the program I did (though it was expensive- Yeesh!). And I am sooooo glad to be done, done, done, so I can make cookies!!! Want one? Help yourself, because "I'd rather be sharing a cookie with you than doing my homework!"

Thursday, November 10, 2011

My How Quickly It Flies...

So four years ago today I married my best friend. And we are even better friends now than we were then, which I didn't think was possible. And, yes, I know how sappy that sounds, but there it is, the truth. What can I say, sometimes the truth is sappy.

So here is the not so sappy part. Up until three days ago I had hoped to give my best friend the best anniversary present EVER! (at least for us at this time in our lives). But then I got my period, and well there went my present. Not pregnant. Again. I knew this was coming, I mean I took a test on Saturday and failed. But, if you've ever spoken honestly with a woman trying to make a mini-you-me combo, you know how completely irrational, and crazy we are. So of course the negative test meant absolutely nothing, because there was a slim chance it could be a false negative, right? I told you, we are irrational. And though I desperately cling to this crazy hope, that Saturday I was sad.

Will this ever happen for us? What is wrong with my body? How the hell do high school girls make this seem so easy and accidental?!?! And as I was about to be consumed by the dark thought that we may never get our dream, my best friend made me laugh. He, of course, had no idea what crazy thoughts I was having in my mind. He was just being himself. And himself makes me laugh, and wonder at humanity, and ponder at how wonderfully and beautifully made we truly are.

That is when I realized that if our future holds only the two us alone, that that is enough, more than enough. I love love love my husband. These last four years have been better than all the 25 I spent not married to him. I am truly happy with our life, our home, our dogs, our life style. And he is wrapped up in every single element. I am blessed, because I met someone who intrigues me and who for some odd reason finds me interesting too. From each other we learn and grow. With each other we overcome struggles and trials. He makes me a better person (again with the sappy) and I truly wish everyone could spend time with him because he has a way of rubbing off on folks. This world would be a way better place if people were a little more like him.

So what did I end up giving him as a gift anyway? Nothing. Not a thing. We're broke. Broke and happy. And blessed.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Before I Leave

Of course everything is beginning to bear fruit, just as I am preparing to leave the country. My good friend Megan is going to take care of them for me while I am gone.

Look at how big these beauties are!

I hope there is something for me to enjoy when we get back. But if not, I am thrilled that we made it this far! So so so happy!

A Song From My Husband

My husband is a wonderful musician. Sometimes I take for granted how lucky I am to have such a gift living with me. I admit I have closed the door to drown out the music coming from his cave. I think in order to really relish those magical moments I need to slow down and just sit, being surrounded by melodic sounds. And I just don’t have time for that now. I never just sit still. It is the greatest tragedy of my life right now.

My husband has written many songs about many things, but I have never been the subject of them. At least not directly. I understand why, and I don’t mind at all.

Recently he surprised me with the most beautiful song. Ever since before we got married I have been eyeing wind chimes. I can never bring myself to buy them because they are so expensive. But there is something so soothing, so calming about them. My soul delights in them and takes flight on the wind with them.

One day I came home to this.

He made it for me. He bought the material from the hardware store, he looked up the best way to hang them to make them the most resonant. And they are lovely. I love love love my wind chime.

I couldn’t have asked for a better song. Thank you my love.

First Harvest

Here it is! There is one beefsteak tomato, and rest are Amish paste tomatoes. That is yellow squash. I probably should have harvested it earlier, but I didn’t even notice it until today.

And in the pots we have a banana pepper that I got a few weeks ago for a dollar at Lowes,

and eggplant from the Fullerton Arboretum.

I need to keep a close eye on my fruit or someone else will. Isn’t she so cute! She just loves fresh fruit from the garden. Can’t say that I blame her.

Not Dead, but Not Exactly Thriving

So the tomatoes are still sprawling, but some of the leaves are starting to turn brown and die. Not exactly sure why? But even though there are dead leaves, there is still fruit. I will have to wait to see what happens.

Oh, look! There is a red one. How exciting! Even if the leaves around it are shriveling and falling to the floor.

Which reminds me of the words of my mother-in-law. While showing her my garden, I commented on how I may not be able to count this as a success exactly, but it is better than last year, and who knows, maybe by the time I am 50 I will finally be able to support a garden that is beautiful and bountiful. To this she responded by recounting how her own mother-in-law tried throughout her 80+ years of life to keep a plant alive to no avail. I’m pretty sure that story was meant to encourage me, I think…

In the meantime, her are the Mr. Okra, and Ms. Strawberry, thriving.

I think this might actually be my first okra for harvest. So happy they survived the transplant.

Maybe I Didn’t Expect You to Last

Not this long. You did look healthy and strong, but so did many others before you.

These are my tomatoes. They are out of control. Which is an entirely different type of problem than any I have ever faced with gardening. I am used to caterpillars eating my crops, fungus taking my plants, and death by dehydration (or over-hydration). But now I face crops being suffocated out by the success of my tomatoes. You can’t see it in this picture, but underneath this tomato plant are small okras (planted by seed). Remember I showed you them here? Anyway, it is time for me to move them, or else say a final prayer for them.

So with the help of my wonderful husband, I have made a new home for my Mr. Okra, Ms. Strawberry, and Mr. Bell Pepper. They are quite happy to be out of that old crowed place.

Before I go, I wanted to show you this. I am not sure what it is. I planted cayenne pepper seeds in this pot, but I have no idea if this is cayenne or a weed. I wait in anticipation of a pepper, but if it is a weed, it will the healthiest weed there ever was. Time will tell…

Old Yarn, New Trick

Me and crochet will always be friends, always. But I have to admit that I have known for sometime now that I was going to need to step into the world of knitting. There are just so many more patterns for knitting. So why have I been dragging my feet? Well, two needles seems harder to me than one hook. But it is time. My curiosity has won over my nerves *Ahem-laziness-Ahem*.

Here before you I present my first project.

The beautiful little girl modeling this hat makes my work look way better than it actually is (Thanks baby Ruth, I love you so much!). I have since made 2 others like this and each one is better than the last, but of course I forgot to take pictures of those, so you’ll just have to take my word on that.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

A Moment of Transparency

John Lennon once said, "Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans". Those words haunt me now. I recently found out that having a baby will not be easy for me. And my plans of finishing school and starting a family, you know doing it the "right" way, was never something I had the power to plan for in the first place. Isn't that frustrating?!? This whole time I was planning, because that is who I am by nature, and little did I know I was wasting time, energy, and worse yet opportunity. But here I stand on this side of the truth, looking back does me no good. I can't change it.

But looking forward seems to do no good either. I walk into stores, past baby clothes then my eyes uncontrollably well up with tears. This activity, which was harmless before learning the truth, now is painful. I admit that before, when I would walk past the tiniest, cutest clothes there was longing, but it was assuaged by the thought that "soon, soon, my time will come". Now the thought is "will I, can I...if..."

I know that this is not the end of my family opportunities. Adoption was always part of the plan. I think I am just mourning the loss of this part of the plan, the dream. There is something primal about the desire to bear a child. It is irrational and so powerful. And that is why, I think, this is affecting so much.

The news I got from the doctor was unofficial, and I have to admit that I hesitate to take the tests to find out officially. I don't think I could take that now, not just yet. And I am still hanging, clinging to the words and hope of my mother, "Mija, your time will come, God knows". Yes, the Great Mystery knows, and meanwhile I will walk past the tiny dresses and jumpers quickly, narrowly escaping a potentially embarrassing scene, living my life outside of the perfect plan.

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Part Where I Drag My Feet

So I have finished assembling the my second granny-square baby blanket. This one went faster since I already had an idea of what I was doing. I couldn't find the same exact yarn colors. Don't you hate it when that happens? So the colors are slightly different, but that just makes it one-of-a-kind, right?

A few weeks ago I went to a Stitch and Bitch with my friend Katie. It was fun gathering with women, needles, hooks, and yarn. There is something about working the yarn in, over, through, and out that is soothing to the soul. As the yarn unwinds, so does the mind. It is the weirdest thing- that I can be so relaxed while being so productive. But it's true. There is nothing like whipping out a beanie or a scarf when I am stressed out. And the final product is so satisfying, so rewarding, until...

You flip it over. Ugh! Tails!!!! I hate hiding tails. This topic came up at the Stitch and Bitch. We all shared the same sentiment. Someone thought it would be a great business to have a place to send your nearly-finished work and have some one finish it for you. But I started crocheting to solve my gift-giving-on-a-budget dilemma. So paying someone to finish my work defeats my purpose. But if anyone out there is bored and has an odd love of hiding these rascals

We should join forces. We'd make a perfect team :) Until then, I drag my feet. Maybe tomorrow I'll pull out the needle and get to work, maybe...

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary

How does your garden grow?

With silver bells,

And cockle shells,

And pretty maids all in a row

The "pretty maids" are Okra we planted from seed. It is so exciting to see them pushing up through the dirt.

We lost one of the Julia Child tomatoes, but the other tomatoes have started to perk up, which is encouraging.

It is starting to get warmer, and we'll have to see how the plants hold up in the SoCal heat, coupled with my unintentional neglect. But today, they are lovely. Yes, today was a good day.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Plants

So after we got the soil ready, Mr. J built some raised beds for me and we filled them with compost and topsoil. And it looked like this:

We went to the Fullerton Arboretum and bought some tomatoes, then to Lowe's for the rest (strawberries, squash, swiss chard, onion, okra, and peppers). I tried to give myself a better chance by buying most of the rest as healthy plants. We'll see if it works.

NOTE: It is integral to make sure you have a trusty wagon to help in the planting process. I'm pretty sure all the experts say this...somewhere....probably.

So then we planted the plants and seeds in the raised beds and viola!

It looks promising here doesn't it? Sadly it didn't staying looking like this. Some stuff is holding up alright. Some stuff ahem, cough, cough*Amish Paste tomatoes, squash, and Julia Child tomatoes* are not. I'll keep you updated.

I remember hearing once that the prerequisite to having a pet is to have a plant and make sure you don't kill it. Then you move on to a dog or cat and if you don't kill that you can have a kid. Let's just say, I may be destined to aunt-hood for the rest of my life. Things might just be better that way. At least I can't seriously damage anyone...I hope. I promise not to over-water my nieces and nephew, well I might over-water them with loooove *wink*.

I wanted to show you the detail of our raised beds. The tutorial we watched suggested laying down wood chips between the beds, but we didn't have any. We did have some bricks that the previous owners left behind, and we did have rocks (that I had sifted out in the previous post). And we did this with them

And this

And this

If nothing else, at least I made it look pretty, so maybe these plants will want to stick around and bask in this luxurious place. Wouldn't you?

Monday, April 4, 2011

Tilling the Soil/Prepping the Soul

If I haven't said it before (which I think I have) I really really want to be a gardener. There is something about this art that I am drawn to. It speaks to my elderly ways (I'm really a Grandma trapped in a 29 year old body), my inner hippie (I did mention this before here), my desire to live a simpler life (one that is full of whole and healthy foods), and it is one small way I can help take better care of this beautiful planet.

But wanting to be a gardener does not a gardener make. If only... you see every time I have attempted this in the past, I have found that my thumb is not as green as I had hoped. There! I've admitted it. Still I haven't lost all hope. I think I have figured out some of the things that I have done wrong in the past, and I hope to fix those this time around, and maybe we will see more success.

Also I have a new home, with a new yard (well new to me anyway). I'm actually attempting to plant in the ground instead of in a pot this time. Let's see if that doesn't help me out either. Also, my partner in crime said that I should use a small area and start small to see how it all goes. He pointed out the perfect area for us and I began to get the soil ready.

You see, the area was perfect in location, but not in condition. The previous family that lived here left hundreds and hundreds of small garden rocks piled up and strewn about the yard (making in impossible to mow the lawn, but that is another topic). And of course they were settled and multiplying in my "perfect" gardening spot. Looking something like this:

As you can imagine, this is not a welcoming place for plants to grow, fighting against rocks to get the smallest bit of sun. And so I began the task of clearing these rocks. Man oh man, did this make me realize how "soft" we are in the 21st century. I mean after the first day I was exhausted, achy, and defeated. But it had to be done, and so 4 days later this was the result:

Not bad, eh? While this was grueling work, an unexpected bonus was that I was simultaneously tilling the soil. And there was something spiritual about that act. I became intimately connected with my soil. I realized how the earth is truly living. I couldn't pick up one shovel of dirt without finding a worm, a grub, a rollie-pollie. And I was in awe of this life that thrived unbeknownst to me, and unaided by me. As it turns out, I am not the center of the universe, but I am part of the fabric of life weaving this wonderful planet together.

"All things bright and beautiful
All creatures great and small
All things wise and wonderful
The Lord God made them all..."
Yes indeed!

Tune in next time to see how the garden turned out. Did I in fact help beautify this earth? Or did it end in total disarray and destruction? Only time will tell...

Sunday, March 13, 2011

How It Ends

Final Phase: Finished product.

I have been finished with the baby blanket for quite some time. I really like the "quilt-ish" feel of the granny squares right next to each other. I tried putting a unifying color border around each square and it wasn't working for some reason. I had worried that sewing the pieces together with white yarn would look silly, but I actually liked the contrast of the white yarn.

For those wondering, I pretty much just sewed the granny squares together. I used a large needle with a large eye and did a basic whip stitch.

I was concerned about the size of the blanket. I thought it was too small, but my friend Katie told me that she thought it was just right. She said that she still uses the small blankets made for her daughter, even though she is now almost 3 (Yikes! Time flies faster and faster the older I get). I had never thought about that before, but a smaller blanket would be easier to put on a stroller, or cover a sleeping baby with. I think you learn these practical things when you are a parent. I could prepare as much as I like, but there are things that I will never learn until I am there.

I can tell you that this blanket is the perfect size for a rambunctious, and silly terrier named Euki.

After finishing this, I wanted to make a giant version for my own bed. This always happens. I make things for other people, but rarely for myself, then want to keep it. But alas, I have to let it go. It is better that way. It means I can keep making more without stuffing my house with yarn projects I hardly use. Speaking of which, I better get back to my second "quilt"... no this one is not for me either :)

Saturday, January 8, 2011

How It Begins

Phase 1: Impetus
First, you must realize that you have no gift for the upcoming baby-shower. Then you realize that you also lack money to go and buy said gift. Next, panic! Finally calm yourself down, realizing that you have plenty of yarn, and can do a thing or two with a hook.

Phase 2: Get to it!
I usually let the yarn I have determine the design of anything I make. Color and texture lead me to decide what I should make and how I want it to look. Since I had a bunch of colorful skeins of soft yarn I figured I would use them for a baby blanket. I decided to make a granny square blanket with my many colored yarn, firstly because I've never actually completed a granny square blanket, though I have made plenty-a granny square. And secondly, because I did not have enough skeins of any one particular color so granny squares would be perfect.

I think I used a 5mm hook, and my granny squares were three "rings" each. This is how it begins, a single piece of yarn, a single hook, and a single square. Then...

The squares multiply, divide, change colors and do the watusi. I actually had to head out to buy the blue and red yarns. Once I had all the squares done, I laid them out on my bed and put them in the order I wanted them. The goal was a quilt made of yarn.

At the top there is my bodyguard, Momo, a very important detail I forgot to mention. Never begin an assignment without your trusty body(pillow)guard. I also forgot to mention that it is seminal to the art that you watch something inspiring at the same time, you know, something that is high-culture like Shakespeare, or in this case "Sing-Off" (wasn't it such a great show this season!) as you can see streaming on my computer.

After the pattern is determine, I bunched up the square row by row and tied them to help me put them together more quickly, like so

At this point I will stop a let you catch up. So get to it already. NOTE: Phase 1 is optional, and Phase 2 is where the fun begins.

Next time: Finished product I promise!

(I swear I already finished it, but I have been reluctant to post because I didn't want the recipients of the gift to see. So I started another for my husband's sister, who is also expecting, then DOH! she said she had recently been reading my blog. BLAST!!! I hope she doesn't read this post, because I have been siting on this puppy for a while and can't wait anymore.)

PS: Vanya, if you are reading this, I changed my mind. I am actually crocheting you cloth diapers...Oh and don't read my blog anymore until after the baby is born :)

Friday, January 7, 2011

What's in My Belly

Usually when I tell people the foods I don't eat (no free-range meats or dairy, no gluten, limited citrus, etc.) they quickly ask me, "So what do you eat?" the smart-ass in me wants to reply, "Food, duh!" but I restrain myself. I know I have to cut through the surface of the question and get to the heart of what is happening. They are facing a cultural difference that is difficult for them to swallow. So much of culture is formed by food. Think about it, what do we do on special days of celebration -birthdays, holidays, weddings, sports gatherings- WE EAT! Yumm!!! And it's a good thing too, because I love eating.

It just so happens that our middle class American culture eats specific things. We identify certain foods with specific cultures-Mexican, Chinese, French, American-but what I have had to learn is that food is food. Recently a co-worker was hospitalized for a serious stomach problem. When released, she was told not to eat fatty foods like meats. She came to me and asked me for advice. "How do you do it? What am I supposed to eat now?" I was able to calm her down and show her that her world of food was not shrinking but expanding. She was now free to see food as a source of energy. Which is what it is!

And when we look at it that way then we can eat all kinds of "weird" and "crazy" things because our purpose is to get energy. This is why I have been able to eat turkey soup for breakfast everyday this week. This is why I can have some nuts, avocado, and applesauce for lunch. My food world has expanded because I don't only eat what is "supposed" to go together, but whatever I have on hand, and whatever I am craving, and I love it!

Above you can see what I keep stocked in my kitchen. We have pastured butter, and cultured butter, raw organic milk, brown rice (just bought this in bulk for the first time), avocados (I LOVE LOVE LOVE avocados!), free range eggs, we eat lots and lots of eggs, grape seed oil (I also use olive oil), and coconut oil, sweet potatoes and yams (these are in season and we love to make fries out of them), raw cheese, apple cider vinegar, almond flour (I have a ton of alternative flours too), and homemade applesauce. So you see we aren't starving, and we actually have very delicious meals. Stop by some time and we would love to share, that is, if you are brave enough.