Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Yarn Along

For this week's Yarn Along, I have a new book that I just started reading aloud to the kids, Flora & Ulysses. We're enjoying it, so 3 nights in we're already more than 1/3 of the way through the book. I'm still intrigued that it won the Newbery Medal this year though. Thus far, it seems a little sillier than Newbery's usual fare. More of an older-kid version of Mercy Watson than Kate DiCamillo's other more serious novels. I'll reserve my final judgment until we finish though.

On the knitting front, I've been working on some new dishcloths. I've made several dishcloth patterns in the past, but this one is new to me. I needed a change. The Double Bump Dishcloth pattern is easy to remember, but has enough visual interest and knitting interest to keep the utilitarian knitting from becoming boring. And it moves quickly. A perfect dishcloth pattern, in my opinion!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

a mess in the backyard

The saga of the backyard fence began, unbeknownst to us, back when we moved into this house nearly 10 years ago. One of the appeals of this neighborhood property was the fact that our backyard shared a property line with a farm full of cute animals, mostly cows at that point. We enjoyed watching the cows as they grazed and eventually gave birth and raised baby calves. They ate everything in sight and would even happily eat our grass, which we often dumped over the fence to them.

Eventually, the cows were exchanged for horses and they still ate a good bit of the brush from around the property, although we did have some blackberries that came up along the fence line. We were actually thrilled about the blackberries. Who doesn't love free food, especially if it's just growing in your backyard!

Eventually though, the farmer passed away and the animals left. With no one to pay much attention, the forest and field ran wild and started bleeding through the fence and into our yard. Even many of the blackberries were crowded out by the pokeweed and dozens of small trees that sprouted up here.

The brush and vines became so thick that we couldn't even see much of the farm unless we were upstairs. Eventually even poison ivy became part of the mix and to top it off, the smallish trees were becoming larger trees and started shading my garden!

Clearly, we needed to get a handle on things before our garden area was completely shaded and overgrown.

Sunday morning, a couple of nice fellows made short work of this area. I was very impressed. We did decide to keep 2 trees back there, a wild cherry tree and a pine tree. Neither are a shade threat to the garden but will shade the part of the yard where the kids play most.

We still have a great deal of work to do along the fence as there are numerous twigs and debris left over from the removal. There is even still some poison ivy hanging around back there. We're hopeful that the coming rain over the next 2 days will wash some of the residual oils away so we can finish pulling up the roots.

There are also still hundreds of blackberry canes back there but most are at least a foot from the fence. Hopefully we can do a better job, with the help of a brush blade for our weed whacker, of keeping the field in it's place.

Now...let the gardening season begin!

Monday, April 28, 2014

an update for the dining room

For several months now, we've had an update for the dining room on our agenda. This room was originally painted within months of moving in almost 10 years ago! It definitely served us well, but the paint was fading and the curtains were nearly faded through. 

First we had to recover from the Christmas updates to the kids' rooms. Then, we had to wait on the painting until I had the new curtains finished for this room. Our dining room faces the street and gets all of the morning sun. Living without a curtain in these windows is not a possibility! Finally, the stars aligned, the hardware and paint were purchased, and the curtains were sewn. For about $80 in cloth, hardware, and paint, we gained an updated look in the dining room.



In addition to the new curtains, we relocated the keyboard and the stemware that cluttered the top of the wine cabinet. We also moved the Nikki McClure prints to this room from their old home, which is getting an update soon.

I'm happy that this Pyrex print matches the new curtains so nicely. It needs a larger frame and matting to really fill this space though.

The curtain fabric is from Michael Miller's Put a Lid on It line. I fell in love with it nearly a year ago, and the dining room update was really planned around this fabric.

The orange walls make the photographs look a bit darker, but the room is just as light as it was before and even lighter when the curtains are drawn. The heavy red drapes we had before really blocked out the light in this space. I'm definitely happy with the updates we made here.

Friday, April 25, 2014

{this moment} - National Junior Honor Society

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. See Soulemama to play along.

Monday, April 21, 2014

a happy Easter

Often, the week of Easter is busy for us. It's typically the week that Paulie and Philip have spring break. We often travel. I forget during the busy times just how valuable it is to have a low-key Easter, full of the kind of busyness we enjoy most: making hot cross buns, church services, knitting bunny cubes, dyeing eggs, hunting eggs in our own backyard. With the number of snow days we experienced here in NC this year, the boys' spring break was shortened. We had a bit of a staycation instead, which afforded us the kind of Easter holiday that we all enjoy immensely. (The 5th bunny cube is NOT an announcement, as I've been asked, but a bunny for Paulie's and Philip's baby sister at their mom's house.)

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Yarn Along

I haven't participated in Yarn Along for a couple of weeks largely because I haven't done much knitting. Easter is coming soon though, and I found these cute little bunny cubes that are a fairly quick knit (made with scraps, no less!) to add to the kids' Easter baskets. I haven't gotten quite as far as I hoped this week, but I'm sure I can finish the last couple before Easter.

I also just started reading Empty Mansions, which has been on my library list for quite some time. I was fascinated with the story of Huguette Clark when it hit the news a few years ago. Thus far, the book is quite interesting with history of her family and many details of happenings in the world at that time.

The lone finished bunny cube! He needs to start multiplying soon!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

a Little Free Library

Back in the fall, I heard about a Kickstarter campaign launched by a local woman hoping to put a couple of Little Free Libraries in our area. The campaign took on a life of its own as the goal was surpassed and totaled more than $10k in only 2 weeks. The woman who launched the campaign decided to build as many as she could, more than 20 at last count, and put them all over our region of NC.

Almost as soon as I heard about the project, I sent a message to the Little Free Libraries NC (a page started to keep folks informed on the progress of the campaign) group on Facebook asking how I could help. I volunteered to help paint, along with my kids, or host a Little Free Library.

Paulie, Elizabeth, and Finn painted our Little Free Library when it arrived this past weekend. They decided on solid backgrounds with dripping-paint stripes for the design. And once the post hole was ready, she was set into place.

The Little Free Libraries NC group received more than just monetary donations, but many book donations as well, and this weekend, when our Little Free Library was installed, it also came stocked with the generosity of our local community.

This project thrilled our kids. In addition to helping get the Library into place, they have been constantly checking to see if any books have been claimed or returned, checking for leakage after our rains yesterday (none was detected), and thinking about which of their own beloved books they'd like to share with the community.

If you are interested in learning more about the Little Free Library project, you can find information at They have instructions for building your own Library, a map for locating a library near you, and other ways to support the Little Free Library program. The map takes time to update, which means it might be a few months before our Little Free Library sees much traffic other than our own little neighborhood (or before local folks can find the 9 that have been added to our area just this month). I can't wait to see how this project unfolds for us over the coming years, and I'm elated that we are able to be a part of this movement of sharing some of our favorite stories with the community around us.

Monday, April 7, 2014

spring break at the farm

Elizabeth and Finn were on spring break last week. (Unfortunately, Paul and Philip lost part of their spring break with the snow days earlier this year, and the rest of their break is the week prior to Easter.) Since I had just the 2 of them at home for the week, we decided to head down to visit friends in SC who have a small homestead with chickens and goats. Farm animals, fresh air, and sunshine seem like a pretty great way to spend a few days of spring break! The kids played with friends, pulled and dried wild onions, ran in the sunshine, dragged the wagon all over the homestead, fed the chickens and goats, helped trim goat hooves, watered their burgeoning gardens, and largely avoided Steve, the angry rooster.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

date weekend in NYC

Paul and I were lucky enough to get a date weekend in NYC last weekend. The weather was chilly and rainy, but without kids to chase, we still considered it a blissful weekend. We managed to hit the Guggenheim, the Neue Galarie, a Medal Winners book signing at Books of Wonder, a few hours at the Strand, some fabulous NYC food, and some time with family and a few friends. We always treasure our time in this most fascinating city and consider ourselves lucky to breathe in her magic occasionally.