The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline. -Proverbs 1:7

Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost you all you have, get understanding.-Proverbs 4:7

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Mail Day! (again)

I was seriously stalking the mailman for this. For three weeks.
Look what I had made for the girlie who is starting high school next year. I had a yard what should I make?
These nuns are what I was really waiting on. I've been coveting them for a long while. Aren't they cute?

Monday, May 30, 2011


With the exception of Saturday, I had the whole weekend to do whatever I wanted without commitments. So awesome. And, it rarely happens that way.

Oddly, I took very few pictures of me doing a whole lot of nothing.

I did things like ponder how interesting it is to be able to look at our eggs and know which chicken each one came from. Edith lays small green eggs, the medium sized brown belong to Mollyanne and Marigold lays the largest. Maybe this is about as exciting as watching grass grow? It's not my fault. Really. I was born and half-raised in Iowa and they do watch the grass grow there.

I sewed. A blouse and a tank. I'll show them at some point...I need to make two skirts to go with them. It was my lucky day when I found these vintage buttons in my stash. Don't know when they were bought, but for .29 it must have been awhile ago.

A portrait of day #1. There will be approximately 99 more days that look just like this in my future.

Hahaha...maybe I could photoshop this and make it look all Abercrombie-ish. Or, maybe not.

What if?

What if Memorial Day was more than a BBQ or a trip to the beach? What if I could give a quiz and even one of my students could come remotely close to explaining the purpose of Memorial Day? (The closest answer I got was "to celebrate the people who go to work to give us a free education".) This is high school folks. Pathetic. Astounding. Shameful.

What if time healed all wounds?

What if I could read this without hearing their voices all these years later?

What if I had never known and loved any of these people?

What if I could have just gone on sleeping that morning of September 22, 1995 instead of being awakened by frantic chaos?

I could play "What if?" all day.

I was 22. So young to learn some of the hardest lessons in life, but young enough to be forever molded by them.

With the exception of the first two, all the questions are the same; What if it had not happened? The single answer is: My life would be vastly different. One event changed everything; who I was, what I wanted and who I would become.

I would not have a child as old as she is. I would probably not live in Maryland. I would not be a teacher. I would probably not have to physically restrain my limbs from becoming out of control whenever the Star Spangled Banner is played (and people around me are acting stupid).

Perhaps, my only thoughts on this day would be about beach traffic, the pool opening and recipes for my BBQ.

The person I am is disgusted by the idea of who I could have become in the absence of one event; the ultimate answer to all of the "What if?" questions.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Stop This Chicken!

(This is a borderline creepy picture of Marigold; doesn't it look like she could be plotting something malicious? This post has nothing to do with her. I just needed a chicken picture and well...I guess having a supply of chicken pictures is one of the many benefits of owning chickens.)

I spent last week wandering about in the desert of my own little world trying to make sense of things that don't. I was so deep in that desert I had to drop almost completely out of this world to get there. I did journey back, but the walk was long (despite the relatively short amount of time I was gone)and I came back with an empty hand. I was exhausted and ready to just settle for that.

To my detriment, I'm a thinker. Everything must be analyzed. Everything must be profound.

I like evidence. Visible evidence.

I like explanation.

I nearly require logic.

Why? Why must I make everything difficult?

Sometimes I don't even know I've made something difficult.

Such a time was today. "Stop this chicken!" (Said in a deliberate voice.) And somehow everything I've been grasping for (which has been in front of me all along and yet I could not grab hold) was still enough for me to pick up.

I realize none of this makes any sense to any of you. It makes sense to me.

And now I don't have to settle for less than what I know is mine.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Mailman Stalking

I've been known to stalk the mailman. I wasn't expecting this until tomorrow.
So, lesson learned. If you want/need something quick, order from Pink Chalk Fabrics. I ordered less than 48 hours ago. Shipping was free and it came from Washington State to Washington D.C. I'm not even sure how that's possible.
I've already cut into the dotted swiss. I couldn't contain myself. The blouse pattern is "beginner", so hopefully #1. I'm going to love it. and #2. I can whip a bunch of them out for the June challenge in just a little bit of time. We'll see. The other piece is going to be a skirt. (Both from my meager "adult fabric" stash. The skirt fabric is another feedsack from the 30's.)

My other mail...

I was stalking the mailman for this. It was supposed to come yesterday and then got held up in PA somewhere. Boo.

The only problem on a good mail day is now I don't know which to do; sew or read?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

I need more skirts.

It goes like this: Uncle Chig's (who isn't really my uncle)wife Millie had a sister named Rosie who had some vintage fabric in her stash. Rosie was the mother of my neighbor Nancy (Who my kids used to call Grandma Nancy...but relation.)Anyway, before she died, she gave me a pile of flour/feedsacks from maybe the 30's.

At that time, I had a sewing business. I could have made something awesome and then would have sold it for a nice sum back in those days. But, I didn't. I couldn't. I had some weird attachment to these two pieces. They've sat on my shelf for some years. Every now and again I'd go look at them and try to get inspired.

Their fate was determined one night around midnight when I wanted to sew and didn't have enough of any suitable fabric to make a skirt. This is a (much altered) version of McCalls 5430; a pattern that is labled a "1 hour skirt".

I suppose if I sewed like normal people, it might have taken an hour. But, I don't. My altering consisted of random chopping (because the skirt was long and I am not), an extra buttonhole and probably a whole lot of other things (considering I only consider instructions suggestions and therefore don't read them).

In the end, I love it. So much, I might make about 20 more of them.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Exactly 10 Hours

The front end:

The Middle...after winning 3 back to back games:

The Back End...exactly 10 hours after we left the house, we pulled back into the driveway. 5 games were played. They were 2 goals short of being undefeated and SMYLA champs. I wasn't planning on giving 10 hours to lacrosse to today, but it was worth it. I want to remember every detail.

When will he be too old for me to call him "cute"? Because, he's freakin' adorable, don't you think?

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Looking back...

I did not do such a good job of updating the minutia of what comprises my time. Good minutia. Here goes:

Any guesses on what I'm going to make?
A key ingredient. If you are going to make Thai food, you need this.
What about now? (I only used a little of this wine that was previously being decorative for the past year on my side table. I might drink the rest after I get finished with my yard work today. Because today is going to be awesome. I have absolutely no commitments and Ryan is taking the kids to the movies which means I'll be alone in my own house. That never happens.)

It's Thai Basil Chicken! I could copy the recipe for you, but it's not like I own it or anything. I use this one. It's mild enough everyone will eat it. I double the recipe we like it so much.
I leave for work too early to eat breakfast. I'm one of those people who can't eat until mid-morning. (Unless it's Indian food. I can eat that at 5 a.m.) But, it was testing week and everything was out of whack. I was proctoring at mid-morning. (Which is about as fun as it sounds. Maybe less so.) For all who know me, you know the concept of cereal nauseates me. It's the milk factor. Blech. But, dry cereal with nuts and dried fruits isn't too bad. I'm sure there are a billion calories in this, but I clearly didn't care.
Cupcakes. Does it seem like I'm forever making cupcakes? I've had this habit for years. They are the cheapest, easiest-peasiest thing to make and take whenever I or my kids need a dessert for something. And who doesn't love cupcakes?
Girlie let me braid her hair. That hasn't happened in many years.
I cut out a skirt from some vintage 1930's flour sacks. It will only take about an hour to sew this, but I still haven't done it yet. Maybe next week.
Occasionally, I cave to my kids' requests for dinner when they swear they don't like and won't eat whatever it is I'm making (even when I know half the time they will end up trying and liking whatever it is). How ridiculous is it to drag out the indoor grill for hot dogs? It made them happy though.
Because we were having butternut squash and onion soup.

And lastly, sadness. When I became a teacher, I had no idea the kids they gave me would become "my kids". Forever. Who knew I would get teary-eyed when the bell rang on their last day with me before graduation? Who knew my heart would be joyful when they went out and did great things and broken when they made bad decisions that left them dead or in jail? These kids were my first kids. And, my heart is broken. RIP Spencer Datt and Johnny Hoover. And Kevin, I don't even know what to say to you other than 20 is so young to have to look down the road to your future when you know where you've been. My guess is there isn't anything they can do to you that will outweigh the places your mind is going to take you. 20 is too young for that to be.

Friday, May 20, 2011


For those who are trying to contact me: There is too much to do, too many people talking, I'm too attached to the e-mail and phone. I'm forever running around. I can't get anything done. I can't hear that still small voice I need to hear. By nature, I'm a loner and crave quiet. So, I'm hibernating as best I can and seeking quiet.

I've been spending my time doing everything I love at a relaxed pace; gardening, sewing, cooking, reading... And, it's nice.

Maybe I'll come out of my shell next week.

This will be a challenge.

Check it out: Me-Made-June '11

I haven't done a challenge in a long, long time. The thought of this makes me happy...until I remember I don't really have very many items of clothing I've made. June is probably going to be a "skirt month". I always want more skirts. I'm also going to have to include bags and other accessories under the category of "something I'm wearing". Someday, perhaps I'll have enough garments to be able to pull it off entirely.

(The Pledge)
"I, Melissa, signed up as a participant of Me-Made-June '11. I endeavour to wear something I've made each day for the duration of June 2011."

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Summer 2011

Comfort Books

I love books. I mean really love the point I cannot even allow myself to read during the school year, because I don't have any self-control when it comes to books. Once I start reading, I cannot stop until the book is finished. And then I mourn the loss of the characters from my life until new ones enter. Repeat. These habits can be somewhat problematic to my other worlds (i.e. Being prepared to teach, making sure my kids have eaten, etc...).

I typically have a summer reading list. Until today, I hadn't even started one. This morning, I realized I want to re-read my lifetime favorites.

My Top 10 Books (In no particular order and I will admit I may remember I have another favorite or six tomorrow I forgot to include today.):

1. My Antonia-Willa Cather. I read this book when I was in college for a history class on American women. It's a lot of things for a gentle kind of book. This is my favorite book of all time.

2. A Prayer for Owen Meany-John Irving. Either you can read Irving or you can't. Either you love his work, or you don't. I'm in the "can read" and "love him" categories. Of his works, I love this one best.

3. East of Eden-John Steinbeck. I've tried to read Grapes of Wrath a dozen times and have never made it very far in before declaring it a boring waste of time. I had given up on Steinbeck as a contender for my time and then stumbled upon this masterpiece. According to the experts, it has literary flaws; too many characters, not enough development, too long, etc... Ummm...who are experts to tell me what I'm going to love? Literary flaws or not, hands down this beats Grapes of Wrath which is supposedly the masterpiece.

4. The Good Earth-Pearl S. Buck. Can you believe this was my favorite book in 5th grade? I've read it a few times again as an adult and am always intrigued as to what I could possibly have gotten from it when I was 11. It was on my grandma's shelf and I picked it up early in the evening. I did not sleep until I had read the whole thing through. It's a long book for an 11 year old to read straight through. It took me all night and all the next day to do it.

5. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn-Betty Smith. Another gem I pulled from my grandma's shelf as a child. This book took over my favorites list when I was 13.

6. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings-Maya Angelou. I was obsessed with Maya Angelou's works when I was around 16. Truly obsessed. I believed she was a genius. I'm choosing this title simply because it was the book that introduced me to her work and the door which led to so many other great books and authors.

7. A Thousand Splendid Suns-Khaled Hosseini. I didn't really like The Kite Runner. It was o.k., but it didn't mow me over. This is it that the same author wrote two books with such differing styles? For everything The Kite Runner didn't give me, this book gave me. Many times over. This book made me weep and has haunted me since.

8. The Poisonwood Bible-Barbara Kingsolver. If you can ignore that the author has projected her politics through her fiction, this is an awesome book which tells the story of all Hell breaking loose as a result of human tendency. I've only read it once. It has sufficiently stayed with me long enough to deserve a second read-through and to take up a space in my list of favorites.

9. To Kill a Mockingbird-Harper Lee. What can I even say that hasn't already been said a thousand times over? We listened to this on tape a few years ago and this book became a favorite of my then 7 year old son. Ignoring the fact we obviously have the same taste in books (How awesome is that?), if a book can be the favorite of both a 7 year old and a 35 year old, you know it has to be good.

10. The Screwtape Letters-C.S. Lewis. The thing about Baptist Universities is their required reading lists are a little different than what one may find on non-Christian campuses. I am not a fan of the Narnia series (because I'm bored by it) Lewis is possibly most famous for and therefore maybe never would have read this had it not been on the list. I first read it in 1995 which was the year a single event undoubtedly changed my life in so many ways-beginning with a journey into the darkest of the dark places and then back out again. Coincidental or not, the timing of this reading was impactful; not because it is a comforting or even joyful book, but because it satisfied my analytical mind when I needed something new to think about.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

It was only a matter of time. My dad has been waiting for this moment for a long time.

We don't have any food in the house. Or, at least that seems to be the verbal theme around here. In reality, we have enough food in this house to last weeks. Granted, I usually have jarred sauce (and currently don't) for when I need a "cheater meal" and granted there are like 4 different kinds of pasta in this (because we didn't have enough of any one kind), but geez...What do you people think I grew and froze tomatoes for? Why do you think there is basil and rosemary out in the garden? Be creative people. Maybe it's easier to wait for me to do it?

Friday the 13th

1. My table is about 2" too big to fit in my car. Unless I figure out how to get it home, I will have to build another-at home. Boo. I have other projects to be making.

2. Alicia has a Daisy Girl Scout Troop. (Which means "on paper" I have two Girl Scout troops.) These girls are the sweetest little things...the total opposite of my other girls who are sometimes not all that sweet. I made them heart cupcakes.

3. And here's where the day got weird... It occurred to me that when Jac outgrows his Easter shoes, they can become mine. These are my feet. This is alarming.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

"The Most"

I'm not sure how many days are left of school. Usually, I've started a countdown something or other by now in anticipation of summer. For some reason, I don't want this school year to end. I have no idea what's up with that.
This is a telling note. (Click on it so you can read it.) It's all fine and good until you get to that part about "the most". "The most" is teenage slang (possibly cultural since I've never heard my own kid say it) and contextually means something like "too much". For example, if I gave out an assignment that required more than minimal effort (or any effort at all, actually) they might say something like "You are the most." (This is not a compliment.) To say I am not "the most" is an attempt to say something good-from the perspective of said teenager. I'm not doing "the most". Read between the lines on that one.

They are convinced I'm not white. This is a compliment from their perspective. Before they decided I am obviously black, they were convinced I was Asian...because there was no way I could possibly be white. To clarify, I'm white.
I'm not sure what this is about. She taped it up next to the security call button-maybe there's some meaning in that? It's a drawing of a girl in a weird hat standing in a thunderstorm. That's all I've got.

This totally cracks me up every time I look at it. Someone asked me what my favorite bird was and then gave me this drawing of a flamingo. The part I find funny is the dramatic signature on a simple line drawing. (Bonus Question: How many different spellings of my name can you find in today's post?)
Just being real. It wouldn't be fair of me to give you an incomplete picture.
I built this table yesterday. It had significant issues (a frequent result when one approaches instructions as if they are mere suggestions). I messed around with it today and now it has fewer issues. Maybe the next one will be perfect. Tomorrow: four bar stools to go around it.
Dinner=Fried Potatoes and Onions with Chickpeas and Bratwurst Seasoned with Curry.

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Basics

My "Top Ten Pantry Must Haves":
1. Olive Oil
2. Fresh Garlic
3. Ginger Root
4. Onions (more than 1 variety is preferable)
5. Sea Salt
6. Limes
7. Curry Powder
8. Fresh Rosemary
9. Fresh Basil
10. Some kind of hot pepper

Dinner tonight...Stir fried tofu and brocolli with sweet onions in a peanut sauce over jasmine rice.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

This was supposed to be a Mother's Day Post,'s not.

It's interesting. I don't remember anything about Mother's Day last year. Weird.

1. I have the best friends. (Just to be clear, I spent approximately 37.something of my years thinking I didn't need any people in my life. "Too much trouble", I said. I was wrong. Oh, I was so wrong.)

My friend made me this beautiful basket. She probably didn't even know that lavendar is one of my favorite scents and that I threw away my old (and smelled badly) travel mug on Friday (and forgot to buy a new one over the weekend). I was in a funky mood this morning and she totally brightened my day. I love you Diane Weaver.

2. There's too much to say about this. For those not in the know, these cards were passed out for Mother's Day at the church. Each card was different and they were prayed over with the hopes each woman would get the verse they were meant to have. I got Philippians 4:6-7.

Back in the day (some odd 20ish years ago when I had some convuluted idea of who God is, but I relied on Him to some extent anyway), I had those verses written in my ATO (Airman Training Order). In basic training, when we were marching around or standing around or pretending to not look around or whatever...I would be saying those verses over and over to myself in my head. Whenever we were supposed to be reading that ATO (which was pretty much anytime we were still enough to open it), I would be reading those verses over and over. Basic training was a little rough for me...because I don't like people telling me what to do (duh?). The military isn't the place for somebody with that kind of issue (duh?). These verses got me through those 6 weeks. They got me through a lot of things in my earlier life.

In my current world, I'm all caught up with trying to memorize other things. But, today I am reminded, these will always be my verses.

3. Last year, I was part of an on-line group of people (We met through a sewing board 10+ years ago and have remained friends.) who were all selecting a word for the year. Just one word to focus on. I was newly happy and chose the word "Be" (as in "just be" and stop worrying about/thinking about anything I didn't like or want to do.) It later got expanded to "Be still and know...", but that's not the story I'm telling right now.

This year, I couldn't think of a word. I had almost settled on a phrase, but that wasn't quite right either. It came to me this past week. My word is "wait". Miss E (I love you too, Miss E!) finds it somewhat humorous I had to wait for my word and my word turned out to be "wait". I'm not really fun like that, but I do see the irony. I also realize I'm not all that good at waiting (as was mentioned in a previous post).

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Full Day

I'm tired. Really, really tired. It seems like a million years ago I woke up.

I taught school. (No pictures of's sort of illegal for me to post pictures of kids who don't belong to me.)

I built some furniture. Two benches. Sort of. I started them at the beginning of the week and am just now getting them done. One is completely done and I'm happy with it. The other is nearly done and is really scrappy. (E are you smiling?) I'm not known for being able to wait on anything and when I decided to build these, I couldn't wait to get good wood. (Tomorrow I'm going to make a post entitled "Wait". There is something to say about that.) The boards I used were not so great and twisted boards don't do much for anything you want to be square. (The result, in this case, is one leg is higher than the rest due to the twisting of the boards in the seat frame.) They are going outside. Do I care enough to keep worrying about what to do about that (i.e...make another bench)? I have all these furniture building plans and they are so much I'm too hesitant to even share my list. (Because, I may not be able to pull it off. It really is a lot.)
I started with a pile of boards. The plans I used are loosely based on those of Ana White. I say loosely, because her plans call for 1x4's and I only had 1x6's. (Remember? I didn't want to wait.) That required some math (but mostly some winging it). I painted all six sides three times. That takes awhile.
Speaking of paint...I dragged home a gazillion paint chips from Home Depot. These colors match my dishes (and the tiles in my kitchen and the walls in my living room...), so I'm going with them. I like a different red, but we've already got a can of this red in the basement.
This is the good bench. Who knew it would be so hard to photograph a bench? I took a million pics and none of them are outstanding.
This is where it gets sketchy. Like I said, the second bench isn't totally screwed together and if I decide to not scrap it, it will need sanded/painted/etc... I had envisioned this on my screen porch in the corner.
Had to stop and smell the roses...or bleeding hearts. (I don't have any roses.) Bleeding hearts are my all-time favorite flower. Is it possible something cuter could have been created? Lilies of the valley are my next favorite and I noticed mine are on the cusp of blooming.
Dinner...leek and potato frittata with cheese and broccoli muffins. My family raised their eyebrows at the latter (and two of them were fairly vocal with the "Eww...brocolli muffins?), but somehow all 12 have been eaten.