Friday, August 24, 2007

Just What I Needed

So after my unfocused day the other day, I came home to a little surprise in my mailbox!

A package all the way from Portugal. The ever lovely Paula, sent me a little package chocked full o’ goodies!
I totally needed a Smarties fix - and the fruity ones…just like Skittles!The most wonderful ribbon – I want to do so much with it but I don’t have the heart to cut it. I just want to stare at it and pet it and show everyone and say, “isn’t it lovely?”
Kitty Fabric...sweet, colorful kitties. LOVE!
And BUTTONS! Oh but the buttons are so wonderful!
The colors, the shapes, the sizes.
My favorite...
This was really what I needed! It really perked me up.

Thank you, Paula – you are so very dear!
I wish the colors were captured better, but we’ve had a few dreary days here. Oh and you know how I mentioned the cooler, autumn weather…yeah, GONE! Completely replaced by a humid, rain soaked morning and a hazy 80° F day, something that is supposed to last through next week…next week, which I specifically took off to do some sheet rocking and kitchen renovation finishing because it was supposed to be cool. Ah, how Mother Nature likes to mess with my head!

I need to do a garden update soon (it’s looking like a jungle!) and a Juli’s quilt w.i.p. update, since I finished the strips and will probably put them together this weekend. But I will leave that for next week.

Have a lovely weekend. I’ll post sporadically next week…in between house projects.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Autumn Hath Reared Its Chilly Head

I'm feeling very scattered this week (and it's only Wednesday - not a good sign)

I feel like there's so much to do and not enough time...but I know that's not true. It's only mid-August, but I've got all these lists going; on my kitchen chalkboard, on random slips of paper, listed on the calendar in my purse, in my head. I just feel like I can't keep anything straight; I can't focus and I'm not listening to anyone. I start to listen when they talk to me and suddenly I realize that I've zoned off and haven't heard a word they've said.

I feel like a kid who just realized that school starts next week, that summer's over and there's so much that I didn't do that I wanted to do. This isn't unusual for me this time of year, though. I go through that "Autumn Expectation" period every year. It just feels like it has crept up on me sooner this year, but rereading my August 24th post from last year shows that it really hasn't. I think it creeps up on me because I'm not paying attention and it sends me into a confused whirlwind. It's 44 °F during Sadie and my morning walk; it creeps into the 70's during the day with a brisk, autumn breeze; then BAM!!! it drops like a rock in the evening and suddenly I'm thinking, "WAIT! I didn't go swimming enough! I didn't do enough gardening! I didn't sit on the porch and read practically at all. I didn't barbeque enough. I DIDN'T DO ANYTHING!"

I, of course, realize that this is a complete lie. I've already looked back to see all the things I did this summer (thank you dear blog o' mine!). Okay, so maybe there weren't enough barbeque's and maybe I didn't jump in the Lake enough, but it's Fall! Crisp cool nights made for walking in wooly sweaters, pulling fabric together for quilting, get that fire pit crackling for a leisurely sit down and marshmallow roast, baking...mmmmm....baking - breads and pies and cookies. Ooooh, making stews and soups and hot cider. There is nothing better than sitting on porch in Autumn, wrapped in a quilt with a cup of homemade chicken noodle soup (big chunks of chicken and carrots and potatoes and celery, wide wheat noodles *drooooool*) and a good book, something that's set in the Fall so you really get the full effect.

I think just by verbalizing it, by putting a name to my problem, I can fix it. My scatteriness starts sliding away and the lists are starting to come together with a time line. I have a plan now and even if that plan falls through, I'll be okay with it.

Okay, my rambling is done. I apologize for my random, all-over-the-place thoughts, but I think I just needed to get them out of my head to get rid of this unfocused feeling. I really think I'm ready to say farewell to summer and hellooooo to fall!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Tales from Ambajejus Lake

Our staff retreat was…interesting; enjoyable, but weather ridden and sleep deprived. The camp was 2½ hours from the office. I, suffering from a rather sleepless night (only 4 hours under my belt), rode up with Deb and forgot to take some Dramamine (and I should know better being the horribly carsick type – but it wasn’t so bad, just mildly icky feeling). The road to the camp (I wish I had taken pictures) was a loooooong and winding dirt road that crossed over a well traveled, paved, logging road, then continued on for another loooooong time. It was practically a one lane road that everyone seemed to fly down at breakneck speed. But once we reached the camp, that road was worth the travel!
The view of Mt. Katahdin was phenomenal from the deck of Marcia’s camp!
We sat; we enjoyed the scenery; we had a mini-staff meeting while sitting in camp chairs around the fire pit; we played games (Scrabble got pretty brutal!)
We celebrated Deb’s 50th!
We ate; we drank; we swam; my chief of staff attempted to teach my boss how to fly fish.
Marcia hit a duck with a rock – not intentionally! It was quacking like mad and she was trying to shoo it away (since they come in and poo on her beach), so she started throwing little rocks into the water to scare it off, only her aim was better than she thought and she hit it. Poor duck! It flew off. Marcia was mortified! She felt so bad. Thursday night, rather early early Friday morning (2:00-ish), the wind came up so strong that I had to abandon the tent for the living room couch. I had put a tarp over the tent because it had rained a little earlier and with the wind, it sounded like I was sleeping in a potato chip bag that someone was viciously crinkling! It was horrible! And after about 4 hours sleep, I awoke at 6:00 – wide awake! 48 hours with 8 hours sleep, does not a coherent Tiffany make. But Friday was beautiful! The sun shone bright and the sky was virtually cloud-free all day. Then, just after dinner, I looked down the lake to see the most ferocious black clouds creeping across the sky, so I put the tarp (crinkly potato chip bag) back on the tent. Within an hour, the lightning started, then the camp-shaking thunder rumbled and rain began pelting down. When I looked outside, the trees were beginning to blow almost sideways! I looked over at my tent to see my tarp flying, attached only by one mere string! Then the tent itself began to lift off the ground, pins pulled from the dirt. Roger, Deb and I ran out into the pouring rain to grab all of my stuff from the tent before it got totally soaked and take down the tent, as well, before it blew off down the lake!
Talk about the craziest of weather. It was like a mini-hurricane! Everything was so soaked Saturday morning that I threw it all into trash bags and left it till I got home. What a mess! And so ends my adventures at Ambajejus Lake.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

I ♥ the art of Lindy Longhurst

I happened upon Lindy Longhurst when I went searching Etsy for mermaids. She is an artist from the Blue Mountains west of Sydney, Australia.

I kept coming back to her work and I ended up buying this, this and this. The colors, the designs - there's just so much to look at within her work. I keep finding something new in every piece, even though I've looked at it a dozen times. Bear with the links, they take a bit to load up...or maybe it's just my internet is slow today.

I'm off like a dirty shirt for the next few days. My office is having a staff retreat at Marcia's camp. We're heading way the heck up to Millinocket (about 2 1/2 hours from where we work) to Ambajejus (pronounced am-bah-gee-jus) Lake. I've never been, but this is what it looks like. I'll take lots of picts. It's just 2 days, then it's off to the Lake (to my folks) to pick up dear Sadie, who has been hanging out with them all week. On one hand, it's been nice not having to get up at 5:00 every morning to take her for a walk, but on the other...I miss her. I keep thinking I hear her collar jingle *sigh*.

Have a fabulous rest of the week and weekend. I'll catch up with you all on Monday!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Goin' Natural

Well, maybe not totally natural, but I've been thinking about this for a very long time. And I've been doing things little by little - composting, gardening, saving & reusing grey water, cutting back on unnecessary car trips, reusing/recycling or just plain going without, etc. etc. I’ve been changing my habits, little by little to incorporate more earth friendly practices. I still have some vices that I’m not ready to give up, but I feel it’s time to start changing those chemical habits and move toward more eco-friendly products.

Looking in my cabinets, I see chemical cleaners and detergents. I read my shampoo bottle, my conditioner, body wash, moisturizer and the ingredients are all chemicals...and harsh ones at that – no wonder my skin feels so gross! My water is chlorinated, tastes gross and when drinking great quantities of it without boiling it, gives me an upset stomach (this has forced me to start buying spring water for drinking).

There are so many preservatives and so much processed crap out there, no wonder my body feels lethargic and well, just plain yucky. I admit to succumbing to the fast food nation, more than I should! But since March, I have almost completely cut out soda (to the point where I can probably count on one hand how many I’ve had in 5 months). My body completely rejects fast food now – which I am thankful for! And I’ve been trying to pick up my veggies/fruits at local farm stands (it stinks that our growing season is so short here).

My niece and I spent the weekend at my folk’s house and hit the local natural food store, just to check it out. I love natural food stores, the smells, the wall o’ spices, the dry goods, the essential oils…my heart sings in these stores and at farm markets; I just wish that the people at my local natural food store weren’t so…snooty (they tend to ignore you as much as humanly possible).

Rising Tides Community Market is a member owned natural foods cooperative in Damariscotta. It’s been around since the 70’s and as it grows, they just keep moving to bigger locations (they have over 1000 members now). I walked through the door of this place and fell in love (I’m lovin’ a lot of things lately and that’s a good thing). It’s not a huge store, but they just seem to offer soooooo much more than my local store. AND…while we were there, 4 people asked me if I was finding things alright and one person went and got me a basket (which I didn’t think I was going to need. Duh, I should know better!). Their dry goods and Wall O’ Herbs made me want to weep with joy and then I saw the bulk herbal soaps, shampoos, conditioners, laundry detergents, cooking oils, molasses and vinegars. I tell ya, I nearly swooned! My mother and I are going to join. It’s $10 a year to be a member and if you volunteer 4 to 8 hours of your time a month working there, you receive 10 to 15% off your purchases. You also get discounts and coupons. They invite you to board meetings and encourage you to participate with the board as much as possible.

I just started reading this book and thought, at first, that I would NEVER find half of the ingredients for these recipes, but as I traversed the isles of Rising Tide - oh look, there's french green clay and vegetable glycerin. Oh, castile soap and almond oil. Tea tree and orange essential oils and flax seed. And I realized that creating my own natural body care products was not out of the question. I even tried the face firming/pore shrinking egg white and cornstarch face mask (one small/medium egg white whisked together with 1 tsp of cornstarch till there's no lumps and it's foamy. Spread on face and neck, sit for 20 to 30 mins till it's dry, wash off). Wow! Seriously, WOW! It's a bit weird at first and once it dries it feels like you have cement on your face, but when you wash it off, your skin feels so soft without feeling greasy! They call it "a mini face-lift." When it's totally dry, your face does look rather corpse like - so this will make a great all natural halloween mask! My niece loved the idea; she's thinking zombie for this year's costume!

I preach to no one about their shoulds and should nots, so I hope that no one thinks I'm judging others for not being more eco-friendly. For me, going more natural is really starting to make sense. The more I read about the environment; about religion and spirituality - did I ever mention that I was 3 credits shy of double majoring in English and Religion in University? I have this deep-seeded (seated?) need to explore the realms of spirituality, I always have – and how it’s all interrelated to my health, the more I see a need for a change. The greener I go, the better I feel: physically, mentally and spiritually.

Try the face mask - you'll thank me!

Monday, August 13, 2007

I ♥ Great Big Sea

Saturday night marked one hell of a big kitchen party** in Freeport, Maine.

Great Big Sea rocked out the LL Bean’s parking lot! Apparently (from what I heard), there were people there 4 hours before the concert started (at 7:30 pm) to mark out their spots and get the best view.

I was not one of them – therefore, my family and I sat WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYY back where you couldn’t see the stage, with a 100 people in camp chairs.
But we did have a screen on which they were broadcasting the concert.

I kid you not, there were about 500 people there – I swear!

We danced, we sang, we converted the two couples in front of us who had never heard of Great Big Sea and were only there for a free show.

My pictures aren’t great, but Great Big Sea – THEY. WERE. AWESOME!

** For those of you who don't know what a kitchen party is: it's a get together of family, friends and neighbors. You hang out primarily in the kitchen; eating good food, playing good music, dancing, singing and telling stories that have you rolling on the floor laughing till you cry! Well, at least that's what the kitchen parties were like at my Gram and Gramp's house when I was little (they were both from Newfoundland - Tors Cove and Bay Bulls, respectively).

Friday, August 10, 2007

Random Show and Tell

I love coming home to fun mail! In the box yesterday, I found my August Button of the Month buttons - Sail Away. The picts a bit fuzzy - I couldn't get it any clearer. And handmade grapefruit shea butter and gingergrass/honey/beeswax soap, ordered from Amisha's etsy shop, Bijou! Can I tell you just how much I love this stuff? I mean totally in love with the Grapefruit! Amisha is a soap-making Goddess!
I have been itching to dye some fabric, only I was out of one of the needed ingredients to create the chemical water that I use for the dye bath. What I didn't realize was that all along, there had been a big 5 gallon bucket, half full of chemical water, under my kitchen table (I thought the bucket was empty, until I moved it). I was doing the happy happy dance of joy! I mixed up a little cobalt blue (that always turns denim color - I really don't like it and I always forget that - so I dumped some red into it and made a lovely raspberry color that fades out to a funky pink), some emerald green and this lovely, lovely turquoise!
Oh, I was so pleased with this! It's going to be the backing of a "foot-pocket lap quilt" that I'm making for my friend Fran. Actually, I have plans to make 4 of them. The idea is that the end of the quilt will be flipped up and sewn in place (pre-binding, with either flannel or fleece on the inside of the pocket) and when my friends are sitting on the couch or at their computers (three of them are hard-core gamers), they can slide their feet into the pocket, pull the quilt over their lap and have toasty toes and legs.
(I really love these two fabrics together!)
This is the plan for Juli's quilt
The fabric is cut, but I realized that I didn't buy enough, that I should have gone with at least another quarter yard of each one (oops).
But I pulled these ones out of my stash, so rather than go back to the store, try to find all 6 fabrics that I randomly picked up (and all 6 of the ones I found for Maddie's), I figured I'd use what I already had - that's the whole reason for a "stash," right?
And I had to show you Monster Plant. Marcia gave me this plant. Her 90 year old mother-in-law received this when she was in the hospital a few years back. It was tiny and cute and she had repotted it 3 times since she got it (Marcia told me that her in-laws have green hands not just thumbs!). But her mother-in-law said that it was just getting too big for her to handle and she had to give it up. It is now happily sitting on my porch, providing Tallulah with her own private jungle from which she can hide behind and spy on the neighborhood.
And here ends my random show and tell for Friday.

Enjoy your weekend - my family and I are heading to Freeport tomorrow night for a free concert of my most favorite Newfoundland band, Great Big Sea. If you're in the area, it's happening right at L.L.Bean's Discovery Park!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

I Have a Groundchuck!

Well, really it's a groundhog, but my friend Juli has always called them "Groundchucks" (cross between a groundhog and a woodchuck), and it's just stuck. My groundchuck is fat and brown and about the size of my cat (only she's fat and grey).

This is not a good thing!

Just before I started my vacation, I noticed that something was nibbling on my peas, but only the peas. I didn't really think much about it, because nothing else had been touched and I was going on vacation - I had other things to think about.

When I came back from vacation, I had the dog out on her run and she was flipping out next to my shed. She ran to the side, she ran round the front, she tried desperately to dig under it. I couldn't figure out why, other than maybe there was a cat hiding under it. Then I noticed that most of my peapod plants had been ripped down from their little trellis and pulled out onto the lawn! But again, only the peas. But I knew, I just knew and across from the garden (nowhere near the shed) I saw the hole. About a foot high, it had been dug out just under the landscape timbers that hold in the hill where my raspberry patch is.

Last night, I noticed that a few leaves to cukes have been munched, one of my tomato plants trompled and the tops to some of my carrots nipped off! It never seems to fail, grow a garden and the groundchuck will appear. I haven't had a veggie garden in two years and coincidentally (or rather not, since I don't believe in coincidence), there have been no groundchuck sitings at my house. This morning, Sadie sat on the back of the couch, looking out the back window and low growling (which sounds like a low rumble under her breathe). I thought she was watching a cat, but there he was...fat and brown and sassy, eating grass by my grill like he hadn't a care in the world! Well that did it, a call has already been placed to the brother for a "Have-a-Heart" trap.

That little brown garden wrecker is outta here!

Monday, August 06, 2007

No Man is an Island

I've always wanted my own private island - no electricity, no phones, water access only. My only neighbors would be the fish and the loons, the eagles, hawks and osprey. I would build a yurt and canoe over during the summer. I would relish the silence, languish in the water and explore every inch of my island.
During my vacation, my Dad took my cousin and I out for boatride, down the Lake and I found my island. It even has a rope swing!
It is for sale! And only $445,000 (yikes!) - what a steal!

I think I'll stick with hanging out here during those hot summer days - with road access, satellite TV, a phone and computer and a personal chef (a.k.a. my mother)

Friday, August 03, 2007

Maine Quilts 2007

(**Update** I had to completely empty this post of images and recreate the whole thing, as the pictures suddenly stopped appearing on my blog! God only knows why.)
These were my quilt show companions - my Aunt Patricia (in the green) and my Mother. Words can do no justice in describing these beautiful pieces of fabric art goodness; you just have to look…

These are just a few that hit my favorite category. I'm always drawn to nontraditional quilts with robust color schemes. This year I found that I was very drawn to those that combined the elements of shape, line, the use of negative space, of light and shadow. There is just something geometrically pleasing about them; a conformity in the chaos that appeals to my ordered side.

I took many more pictures. To see the rest, go here.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Back from Vacation!!

Just a quick note to say that I'm back from vacation. YIPPEE!!! I had a nice long week spent with my family on the water at the Lake and 3 1/2 hours at Maine Quilts 2007 quilt show! I have pictures - lots of pictures that I need to get up on Flickr as soon as I have a moment. Until then, a tease...

Color Dance by Bette Haddon of DeFuniak Springs, FL.

My favorite so far! And I need to do a garden update because my cukes are going NUTS and I have ZUCCHINI!! But that will all have to wait until tomorrow - oh so much to catch up on. I haven't read a blog in over a week - yikes, really have some catching up to do!