Sunday, April 29, 2018

Bits And Bobs

I let a whole week go by without blogging, and if I don't just dump a few things out here, I'll never be able to resume. Let's go!

My new favorite Aldi find:

Only 5 dollars! Plus 72 cents for the sheep...

This replaced the metal colander I picked up off the trash pile several years ago. Considering that that particular find never drained water correctly (I know! It had ONE JOB!) and was also missing a handle, this new red beauty is very welcome in our household. Bienvenue! Wilkommen!

Last week, as mentioned previously, I helped serve dinner to the high school Theater Arts students during Tech Week. (Rachel's in the play as a townsperson. This is a step up from last year, when she was a dancing spoon.) I also signed up to contribute fresh fruit, because I'm a team player like that.

So! I don't know what came over me the second day, but it probably had something to do with the 99-cent cantaloupes at Harris Teeter plus the presence in my breadbox/junk repository of approximately 50 wooden kabob sticks. These sticks must have been waiting at least 10 years to fulfill their destiny. Whatever the inspiration, I ended up putting poor Susie to work, shish-ka-bobbing melon pieces and grapes to feed the Theater Arts kids with.

We're culinary artists, Susie and I

They were a hit, and no one got it in the eye, either. But I'm never doing this again - way too much work. Those kids can just eat grapes off the vine, the way God intended.

Let's see, what else? Tulips are in bloom!

It's a relief to see, as they are about 3 weeks late this year. It's been a cold, cold spring and now it's going to be close to 90 degrees later this week. Mother Nature is a fickle creature.

And there was a new sheep tableau in Susie's room the other night:

Training for Cirque du Soleil, I guess

It's scary how adorable these creatures are. Sometimes I just sit on the couch and hold one. True story.

Monday, April 23, 2018


Okay, here's the latest exhibit in my The World's Going to Heck in a Handbasket display:

First they came for my pizza, and I said nothing...

I mean, what gives? Are people bored with normal chocolate? Were Kisses with almonds, Kisses with caramel, Kisses with cherry liqueur for heaven's sake NOT ENOUGH?

Mark my words, we're in the middle of a stealth pineapple takeover. WAKE UP, before it's too late.

In other news, Susie's full-length mirror fell and broke today. You know, the mirror I bought several months ago at Target (on sale!) and that I propped against her wall rather than securely attaching it to the back of her bedroom door? Yeah, that one. I was waiting for our handyman to pop by (which he does when work is slow, because he knows there is ALWAYS something for him to do around here in this money pit we call home) and do it for me, but he never turned up.

And, yes, I know I should be able to hang up a lightweight mirror all by myself, but I prefer to leave that sort of work for the professionals.

Anyway, the mirror fell and broke and I'm thinking that, just on the verge of my BABY turning 13, we have to get an unmistakable omen of 7 years bad luck. We've been down this teen girl road before, you know; we're not rookies. Still, I'd rather keep my head stuck in the sand a little longer, all right?

We're in the middle of "Tech Week" here, which is Theater Arts code for "your kid has to stay after school every day until 9 PM." The show is this weekend (watch for me to do my amazing trick of breaking the popcorn machine at the concession stand again!), so the cast is in full rehearsal mode. I actually signed up to help serve the kids dinner, which certainly makes it look as though I'm a supportive theater parent; but, really, the whole time I'm dishing out baked ziti, I'm hoping Rachel doesn't have time for Theater Arts in her school schedule next year.

I'm not a team player, I guess. Also, I really do fear popcorn duty. Pray for me.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Fame (No Fortune, Though)

Okay, the other day I tried to read some blog comments on my phone. Usually I just look at my blog on my desktop computer; so I never realized that the type size is REALLY TINY on the mobile app version of this here literary masterpiece.

So I figured out how to go into the inner workings of the blog and change the pixel size or whatever (hey, that's nothing to sneeze at - I had to click "advanced settings" to do it, all the time feeling pretty tech savvy, I'll admit). So if one of you could tell me if that helped at all, that would be good. I honestly can't tell. I mean, I THINK it's a little easier to read on the phone now, but I'm not sure.

You know, when I was growing up, no one could read anything on their phone.

A commenter on the last post (knittergran) asked for details about that narrow blue house I took a photo of. It's called The Spite House, which was featured in the NYT in 2008. I didn't realize until I read the article (click on that link, will you?) that the interior walls of the house are actually the exterior walls of the two neighboring houses. Fun fact! The article doesn't give us near enough interior pictures, IMO, so if anyone can find more...

Let's see, what else is going on here? Spring, for one:

My photography skills are really taking off, I'd say. I mean, bird's-eye-view and everything...

Oh, and speaking of photos, on Friday Brian and a friend participated in the students' walkout and march in DC. They both ended up in a CNN photo of the event, and we were all like, "Oh, look, you're over to the side there in this news photo. That's sorta cool." But a few minutes later I noticed this article and I was screaming, "BRIAN, OMG, LOOK, YOU'RE IN THE ONION."

I have really screwed-up priorities, I'm thinking. I mean, I didn't yell like that when he got into college, even. But, hey, THE ONION...

In other news, Susie has bonded with our newly acquired flock of sheep. Unfortunately, her affection for these ovine creatures means that she became upset when she caught me trying to sneak two of them out of the house. (I had promised them to my knitting friends.) So, yeah, not sure what to do about that...

Anyway, I will leave you with a picture of the tableau I discovered in her room yesterday:

Dang, they're cute, aren't they?

Thursday, April 19, 2018


HELLO! I had to take Susie to the mall today to have her Warby Parker glasses adjusted (we are such a stylish family, eyewear-wise, all because of Brian); and of course we ended up going into all the lower-end clothing stores in search of jeans shorts that aren't too short, which apparently - as an endeavor - ranks right below tilting at windmills on the fruitlessness scale. We also ended up at Panda Express because we're low-brow like that and I love me some pepper chicken.

ANYWAY, while Susie was busy looking for the Holy Grail of summer wear, as it were, at H&M, I drifted over to the jewelry section. I need earrings, because I only have one earring of each pair I like. Every morning I think, It sure would be nice to put on some earrings and I look and there is no matched pair that I actually want to wear. Is this normal? I only had my ears pierced at the late age of 50, so I have no idea.

SO, I looked for the earrings section, but apparently all the earrings have been replaced with window treatment pulls and trim this year:

Are roller shades coming back in style?
These would make great mid-century modern shade pulls

Last time I saw these, they were hanging from
curtain tiebacks in my friend's mother's living room
(circa 1973)

Okay, I think these adorned my great-aunt's
curtains, back in 1969 or so

I'm not even sure how these are supposed to attach to my ears

When I haven't been pondering the sad state of jewelry these days, I've been engaging in more edifying activities, such as going on a walking tour/scavenger hunt with Susie and our friends. We covered over 5 miles yesterday doing this. Of course, all that exercise was probably negated by the pizza and (later) gelato we ingested; but the refreshments were a necessary part of the day, as Susie only walks for food.

In between eatings, though, we saw amazing art:

And interesting architecture:

I don't think I'm skinny enough to live in this house.

We also learned history-type things, which I'm sure Susie didn't bother to retain. But she did enjoy the pizza, so there's that.

Oh, and I acquired a flock of sheep this week:

72 cents each - at Aldi's! I couldn't resist.

I was just going to buy one sheep, as ornamentation for my soon-to-be yarn room; but when it rang up at only 72 cents, I ran back and got 5 more. I mean, wouldn't you?

Susie was so delighted with them that she insisted we go back to Aldi's the next day and rescue any left behind. So that's the story of how I ended up with 7 stuffed sheep, and I think Larry doesn't quite know what to do about it, so he hasn't said anything at all.

That's what 27 years of marriage will bring you to - defeated acquiescence. You heard it here first!

Monday, April 16, 2018

A Taxing Week

Oh, lovely readers! It's been a week, you know? Just too much happening. Let's see...

I finished our taxes tonight. For various reasons involving IRAs and mistakes I made (and later rectified) last year, this year was a hair-pulling nightmare, tax-form wise. Problems with taxes are particularly distressing for me because, unlike most of the population, I love tax forms. My father was an accountant, with an office in the house, and nothing seems cozier to me than some sharpened pencils and a sheaf of IRS forms. When I look at a 1040, I can almost smell the cigar smoke that perfumed his office, courtesy of his clients and his assistant. Mmmm....

So even now, when I do the taxes online, I just...I don't know...I like them. And I also like that they always make sense. If they don't make sense, it's because I haven't figured it out correctly.  But the answer is there, and I know it. So if, like this year, it takes me a month to figure out, it almost drives me crazy. But a good sort of crazy, you know?

That said, I'm taking some accounting courses this year. I don't want to go quite this crazy next April, thanks.

And now, here's the KoolAid-dyed yarn I did last weekend:

Pretty, right? No idea what I'll use it for yet. Maybe I'll just hang it up for decoration in my soon-to-be yarn room. No hurry, Brian, with that moving-away-to-college thing, really. NO HURRY AT ALL.

And look at this!

The pad, not the NASA magnet

I went to Target the other day, and this was all I bought. It cost ONE DOLLAR. I think that must be some sort of a record, don't you?

Oh, and that bathroom paint decision? You know, where Susie and I had picked out a new shower curtain at IKEA for when the bathroom would be remodeled and now it's all happening and we wanted to pick out a paint color that would go with the new shower curtain and with the new tile and with the new vanity?

Yeah, that didn't go well. We ended up buying 3 sample cans of blue and none of them looked light enough and I was about to tear my hair out and start asking for custom colors, ALL BECAUSE OF A $5 SHOWER CURTAIN. That's when Larry stepped in and stopped the madness by saying, "You know, we could use the same color as we used in the basement bathroom, and you could find a different shower curtain."

Which is what we did. And everyone lived happily ever after. The End.

No, really, THE END. Because this was the last bathroom we had to redo, praise be to G-d. Haven't we all suffered enough, through all my tales of renovation? Well, it's over. We're done. I have no idea what Larry will do with all his spare time now, but it will not involve ripping apart my house. Maybe he could get a job doing couples counseling at the paint store?

Birthday balloons, because we do try to be festive

Oh, and Brian turned 18 last week. I'm almost too verklempt to write about it. Instead, here's what I wrote when he turned 13. It feels like yesterday, I swear it. Oh, and here I am, 6 years ago, already waxing sentimental about his little-boy smile. Oh, Lord, my heart hurts.

Despite my fears, he turned out to be a pretty nice teen, helping keep us up-to-date with technology and making sure we can find all our photos; and he even smiles at us from time to time, so I can't complain. But if any of you can figure out just where I misplaced, oh, 18 years, could you please let me know? They've gone missing somehow.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

KoolAid, Bagels, And Knitting. Oh, And Paint.

I don't even know where to begin. The weekend at the beach with knitter friends was lovely, although it would have been even lovelier if I had been missing the Boy Scouts mulch extravaganza at the same time. As it is, I'm still looking for an escape at the end of April. Ideas welcome!

The beach was beautiful. COLD, but beautiful. The bagel shop was open, so I was able to enjoy decent bagels (and bring some home, natch - the kids wouldn't have let me into the house without them). And all of us spent Saturday afternoon experimenting with dyeing yarn using KoolAid mix.

Someone brought tulips, and they were perfect.

There were so many attendees that the party host rented a second house for some of us to sleep in. Now, understand that this was essentially a weekend-long slumber party. We were all up past midnight Friday and then some of us stumbled over to our beds in the other house to sleep. My roommate (who apparently is of an alien species which needs no sleep) woke up at 6:30 and managed to drop her IPad on the floor, waking me up.

Oh, well, who needs sleep, anyway? This just left me more time to knit, right? So we all had a fun day knitting and messing with KoolAid dyes and AGAIN stumbled back to our beds after midnight. "Don't make noise in the morning," I ordered my early-rising roomie. "I'm sleeping in." Still, light sleeper that I am, I heard her wake up a mere 5 hours later and (very quietly) pick up her IPad to scroll through in bed. That's okay, I thought. I'll just roll over and grab an extra hour of sleep.

My bed (which was a trundle) had other ideas. As I flipped over, in the quiet house full of (mostly) sleeping knitters, it crashed to the floor beneath me. I mean, CRASHED. My roommate couldn't stop laughing. "Don't drop your IPad, you said! YOU DROPPED YOUR BED!"

So, yeah, not a heck of a lot of sleep. Still, I did a ton of knitting on my Boxy sweater, which I then had to rip out, because I hadn't read the directions properly. We ate a ton of fun food, including ice cream sundaes. We laughed ourselves almost sick. An excellent weekend, all in all.

And then? I came back to reality. We have a bathroom renovation happening right now, which I have mostly been taking in stride. So much in stride, in fact, that I FORGOT that the guy working on our bathroom would be showing up bright and early Monday morning. Larry was away with Brian, checking out the college he got into, and there I was at 7:30 AM, spinning across my bedroom like the Tasmanian devil, trying to throw on some decent clothes so I could stumble down the stairs and unlock the front door for our puzzled bathroom guy.

That's 3 rude awakenings, 3 days in a row, for those of you keeping count.

Anyway, we all know what a renovation means around here, right? It means the dreaded trip to the paint store. Susie and I went armed with the shower curtain we've already picked out, confident (for once) in our ability to select the right color. After all, Susie is the one who performed the Miracle of the Cayman Blue Paint Swatch, a few years ago. Remember, when we moved her into her very own room and she picked out the color she wanted on the very first try?

Oh, man, those were the days.

We came home, optimistically bearing sample pints of minty green and barely teal and Susie painted them on our sample paint boards and we held them up next to the shower curtain and the tile and decided the colors were both too dark. We needed a white, we decided, a white with just a hint of blue or green in the paint recipe. I mean, formula - paint formula.

So we marched optimistically back to the paint store, where the guy looked at me as though I was crazy when I described what we needed and said, way too bluntly, "Ma'am, it doesn't work that way." So Susie and I stared at the 140 cards of white colors and picked one out that seemed to have a bluish tinge and took a sample pint home, somewhat less optimistically, and painted it on another sample board.

It just looks white.

So, yeah, we've got one more day to figure this out. We're gonna need another paint miracle at this point, is what I'm thinking. Pray for us.

Friday, April 06, 2018

Foiled Getaway

Just quickly: heading up to a beach house this weekend to celebrate my friend's birthday. What with our homeowners association's annual meeting last night, the bathroom renovation occurring in my house, and various other events involving feeding and transporting children, this week has been crazy. But here's the really wrong part: remember MULCH? You know, that yearly event that somehow Larry and I ended up running together, even though we are so definitely NOT THAT COUPLE?

Well, this birthday weekend celebration thing conveniently landed on Mulch Weekend this year. Not only was I NOT in charge of the food tent, I would not have to be anywhere in the vicinity of any of the myriad mulch crises that occur during this event.

Yes, there is such a thing as a mulch crisis. Believe me, I've lived it. Multiple times.

No, I would be far, far away, sitting in my friend's inlaw's house, knitting and laughing and chatting with my crafting compatriots. No cooking multiple dishes of mac and cheese for hungry Boy Scouts; no early Sunday morning donut runs; no Sign-Up Genius activity WHATSOEVER. Oh, paradise! What fortuitous timing!

And then, weather happened. All week, weather services have been trumpeting news of an historic April snowstorm, all coming down this Saturday. And because of this unusual forecast, something occurred which has never occurred before: Mulch Weekend was postponed. An event that has previously been held in freezing temps and rain was canceled for this weekend and moved to the end of the month instead.

Snow? SERIOUSLY? Tell it to the tree.

Anyone far from here want a house guest April 27-29? I'm available.

Sunday, April 01, 2018

Hummus And Ice Cream And Eggs. Also? Culture.

I usually avoid the Internet on April Fool's Day, but I miss you guys and it's Easter and I have a lot of photos. I've already fallen for the Israeli hummus API trick, so why doesn't someone just stick a "Kick Me" sign on my back and be done with it, all right?

I HATE April Fool's Day.

I've been going to bed at a reasonable hour lately, just to see what it would feel like to be well-rested for once. I know, crazy! But that's how it's been, and truth to tell it feels a tad weird, but...well...restful. I must be getting old. Sleeping cuts into my blogging time, though, which I don't like. But still, yesterday I felt rested enough to plant some tulips with Susie:

That should work, right? Now we just wait?

Also yesterday, I went to CVS to buy a couple of bags of jelly beans and some plastic eggs. I did this begrudgingly, because my youngest child is 12 and it feels silly to hide eggs for a 12-year-old, but she asked for them and she's the youngest and she gets what she wants.

I know, stellar parenting there...

Once I got in the store, however, I saw a BUCKET of plastic eggs (62, to be exact) for only $6. And I had the brilliant idea of making Susie and Rachel put jelly beans in ALL those eggs and then hide them for the younger neighborhood children.

In case you wondered what 62 plastic eggs looked like

So I did that. The girls were a little confused when I came home and announced they would be put to work, but they played along fairly well. I went around the neighborhood and told people that we were having a bona fide Easter egg hunt the next morning, which everyone agreed was a great idea. Susie got up early today and help hide the eggs in our large courtyard and on the tot lot. All the little kids and their parents showed up at 9 and had a great time, even the little guy who took a header down some wooden stairs.

You know, I wish everything was this easy. Also, stay tuned for 10 years from now when I wonder why I ever started this thing.

Today was apparently a day for new things. Which makes sense, because Easter, right? Larry and I took the 3 kids who still live here to a local theater for a production of Godspell. Now, understand, this was pretty extravagant for us. Up to now, any performances we've seen as a family have either been at high schools or have been free dress rehearsals. But, seized by the desire to make the day special and to create some family memories for the soon-to-be-leaving teens, I splurged on honest-to-God theater tickets AND managed to convince everyone they wanted to go.

It was an Easter miracle, all right? And the performance was really fun - well, until that crucifixion part at the end. That was sort of a downer.

It was also a day for our traditional Easter sundaes:

Get it? Easter SUNDAE? Oh, I'm clever.

And that was our day. Tomorrow? The bathroom guy arrives to tear out the one bathroom we still have to redo. I need to get up at 6:30 instead of my usual 7:15, a 45-minute change which is enough to make me stressed out and dreaming all night that I missed my alarm. That well-rested thing was fun while it lasted, though...