Wednesday, March 23, 2016

What Adam's Up To

He's scything again. Some of our grasses weeds are high enough. He's also raking vines and stumps and all manner of junk out of the orchard so he can mow in there.
scything by the beehives
Peter is home for his spring break! He'a graduating in May and has plans for this summer and fall that I'll share later. He and Adam got busy in the kitchen.
Chopping garlic ...
Adam's teaching him a baked bean recipe, "cowboy beans," so Peter can cook them this summer. He'll be working at a small off-grid farm and his cooking options will be limited. He's heard, however, that there are plenty of beans.
beans in the pot - garlic, onions, bacon, assorted beans
Peter declared the finished product delicious.
Our church is having a Seder Supper tomorrow evening, so Adam is making Matza. Lotsa Matza.
This was SUCH a good batch! Lighter than air. I got a nibble.
He made a batch of yogurt:
and a batch of pickles:
and some pork jerky for Peter.
We're trying to eat healthy (again) and get back on the weight-loss wagon! That man has been in the kitchen all day long. The refrigerator is full. The aromas are pleasing. Life is good.
Update: This evening we drove to New Bern and acquired a dog! A lady online had found this dog, worked hard but unsuccessfully to locate the owner, and was desperately looking for a new home for her. She's a yellow lab, not young, very sweet and calm. Tonight she's staying with Julia :) Her name is Polly.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

This Week

Hmm. It's only Tuesday. Maybe this post should be titled "Last Week." But I haven't posted in a while, so here's a jumbled recap of what's going on ... or more likely, what random photos are on my phone.
 Everything here is shouting, "Spring!!!" Above is a lovely spot in the county. Their pear trees are stunning each spring and fall.
 A friend has these irises blooming already.
 This past week I took a vase of ruby red camellias to church for the sanctuary. The previous week it was a vase of daffodils, forsythia, and ivy.
And two dogs. Because two dogs is what we are severely lacking. These two adorable pups were being friendly to strangers at the farmers' market on Saturday. Adam has been looking for puppies online. We found some collie/golden retriever mixes, but they were all taken. Still looking.

Our big pine tree is putting all its effort into reproduction right now. It's covered with candles. As I stood by the greenhouse one day last week I noticed a hazy cloud of smoke across the pasture and wondered which neighbor had a fire going. I then realized it was this pine tree, buffeted by a little wind, releasing a cloud of pollen all around it.
 Speaking of pups, here's where we buried Sandy and Maggie Moo. Sandy is on the right with her favorite soccer ball, and Maggie is on the left with her football. There's a forsythia planted between them. And Adam left a little block of wood there also because these two dogs LOVED chasing blocks of wood he'd throw, and starting up what he called a "bark war" as they stood over it, facing each other down. We miss them all the time.
 The orchard is slowly coming alive. It's had such a hard recovery. The scuppernong grapevines are weeping where they were cut.

Anna has been gone a week. She is doing very well. She's posted a little bit on facebook, plus we had a good Skype chat with her Saturday night (her Sunday morning).
Anna said she's been bike-riding. She's been out to eat with friends, as you see in the photos above, which I shamelessly lifted from facebook, and I do hope her friend doesn't mind! She's been to the supermarket. And although she looked mighty sleepy when we saw her on Skype, she didn't seemed stressed or anxious at all. I think she has a good personality for adjusting to international travel and living. She successfully acquired her one-year work visa in one day! She likes all the people she's met, and really likes the family she's staying with (for now). She'll be house-sitting for them for a few months in the summer while they travel. Later she will find her own digs. She's up-to-speed on her teaching responsibilities, and I believe she'll start her teacher training in April before the new school year begins. Their school year is on a different schedule from ours.
We are so very proud of her, even though we miss her so much. I love to see her happy and following her dreams. Mostly, I am quite content in sending her off into the world because I know from our conversations that she is in a good, personal relationship with God, not shallow, not insecure, not merely religious, but deep and real and personal to her. With that knowledge I can peacefully send her far away knowing that she's not alone. Jesus is always by her side. God is laying out His path before her feet.
It hasn't been an easy few weeks, I can tell you that. Too much going on. Too much emotional turmoil. Too much sadness and a bit of gladness. A blog is no place to burden others, as all we bloggers know. But God is still in His heaven and this world is still at His feet. I rest in knowing my place there.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

About Soap Molds

I know this topic won't interest everyone, but I've put some thought into soap molds. Years ago, Adam made me wooden molds. Later he made me molds of PVC that I can take apart and wash.
I like them a lot. They make a good square bar. Sometimes they leak liquid soap out of their seams, so I line them with freezer paper. That works well. Here's what a block of soap looks like from that mold:
lavender soap made this morning
For a long time I've used old orange juice cans as molds.
These are great! They never leak; they're a perfect size for making just a few bars of a scent; they are pre-lined; they peel off; I collect lots of them and it's a great recycle.
But now that I've changed my soap packaging, wrapping a round bar is much harder (and take a lot more paper) than wrapping a square bar.
That's a scarf I just finished this morning, underneath.
As I was rummaging around in my soap box, I found two silicone molds I'd bought at thrift stores and never used. I was about to re-thrift them ... when I thought to myself: why not try them this once, and see if I like them?
I know soap pops out of silicone so easily, so cleanly. But neither of these molds suited me when I was fitting my bars into 4"x6" baggies from Michael's. However, now that I'm cutting the paper for my packaging myself, I can cut the packaging to size and make it work. And I rather like the soap it produced today:
The lemongrass poppyseed on the left will cut nicely into bars. The tea tree soap on the right is not very deep, but I think I can make it work as well. We'll see!

Monday, March 14, 2016

Anna Goes to Japan

Today (Monday) Adam and I and Beau drove to Raleigh and put our beloved older daughter on an airplane bound for Japan.
Look at those suitcases! 50 lbs. each!
checking her bags
goodbye kisses to Beau
Beau enjoyed his first visit to an airport. Other doggies were ill-behaved. We take him almost everywhere with us now.
We don't know when she will return. She's hired as a school teacher in the Japanese school system. She'll be an assistant ESL teacher. She has friends there who will meet her, and other folks she's met or corresponded with. She traveled to China to teach in the summer of 2014, but that was for 6 weeks. This is for at least a school year (which starts in early April for them). And if she likes it, she could be gone longer. I cried when we let her go at the security gate.

Anyway, she and I went on Saturday for a pedicure, a last mommy/daughter date.
Bad selfie :) I'm already working on my summer facial look: burnt nose and raccoon eyes from my sunglasses. Anna looks lovely and Mediterranean as ever!
Then yesterday evening, Adam wanted to eat at a Japanese restaurant in celebration of Anna's adventure. So we did, at Sanuki in New Bern. He, Anna, and Julia ate sushi. I did not because I truly loathe the taste and smell of seaweed. All of them have a thin wrap of seaweed in the middle. But the others said they were very good.
Anna also had some soup and some shrimp tempura. Julia ordered two spring rolls that were lovely.
Anna's happy, and Julia's deliberately giving a worried face.
My dish was delicious! It was chicken + something that started with a "y."
In the car I gave Anna a letter of mommy love and a little gift in a box. She left a box for me on my bed at home.
Isn't that pretty? She also left me a sweet, sweet daughter letter.
But ... what's inside that box, you ask?
Letters. Lots of lovely letters from her to me :) I think I'm supposed to read one each week. It will be quite hard to keep myself from reading them all, one after another. Plus lots of sea shells because we both adore the ocean. And -- because I made her promise to do it -- she left me a lock of her hair. Anna's hair. It's a running family joke that her hair is kind of like another family member, it has such a big presence in the house, haha! But I wanted a lock of it, and she left it for me. If that's too weird or mushy for you ... too bad :) !!
We'll be skyping and facebooking, and I'll keep you posted on how she's doing, I promise.

Basketball Repair

The afterschool program where I work has a playground area that's basically a big parking lot. It has no swanky, expensive playground equipment. So when the basketball goals are broken and need repair, it's a sad day. Those boys LOVE to play basketball. We have over 130 kids in our program, so those two goals get a lot of use.
Adam volunteered to try to fix the situation. We had one stationary goal without a rim (needed to be welded back on) and a broken-out backboard.
We had another mobile goal (with the heavy plastic base), but it's backboard frame was rusted, mangled, and beyond use:

So Adam took the base of the mobile goal,
And he attached the pole and backboard from the stationary goal to it, after putting on a "new" wooden backboard.
Then he attacked the rim from the mobile goal to that backboard.

He worked so hard for most of the day with rather indifferent materials, so that the kids could have something to play ball on.
Most days, I'm enjoying my job these days and am thankful for a chance to participate in these kids' lives. I'm very grateful to have a supportive husband who even volunteers his labor, tools, and time to help ... plus, he has dinner ready for me every evening when I come home from work. Isn't that nice?

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Scarfies for Girlies

I finished at last the red/black/white scarf I had on the loom. Julia's been drooling over it for a week, so I decided this would be HER scarf :) She likes it. Those are her colors.
You'll notice she did a little hair enhancement on the ends.

On the day the puppies died, Adam brought flowers to cheer the house.

 I desperately wanted to send Anna to Japan (Did I mention she is moving to Japan? More on that later.) with a mama-made scarf. So I immediately warped up some fun yarn. She liked the last golden one I did.
I'm posting this warp in a big photo so I can remember what I did. Because it turned out quite beautifully, and I want to be able to replicate this scarf after the original is half a world away!
I learned before that adding a bit of pink is just a good idea. Anna has an olive complexion, kind of Mediterranean, so the bits of orange complement that. And yellow/orange look so good with dark blue. Mostly, the sharp contrasting bands of light and dark make for a stand-out warp.
 It doesn't look quite as good in photos as in person. It's not quite so "stripey" looking. But those colors really work.
We're trying to decide how to finish the ends. Anna wanted an infinity scarf (which is a wider warp, but a much shorter weave, thankfully). She wants the ends enclosed. I hate to conceal all that fun bling! But when you look at all that fringe, yeah, it needs to be finished off and hidden on an infinity scarf.

She'd just woken up, so I promised not to show her face :)