Back Porch S’Mores

It’s officially gotten even slower around here.  The girls and I have been felled by some nasty virus that starts with a cough and sore throat and progresses into some nasty chest congestion and general crapiness.   I can’t imagine that the next few days will be very exciting considering we all feel like crud.  At least we have a pool party on the 4th to look forward to at the house of Paul’s best friend.

Last night before Paul left for Charlotte I got him to get a fire going on the back porch so the girls could make s’mores.  This has been sort of a summer tradition for us since we moved into this house.  Hanging out at night, looking at the stars, roasting marshmallows.  It’s been so rainy so far this summer so last night was the first real opportunity we had and we took advantage early in case we unexpectedly (but not surprisingly) got more rain.

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It didn’t take long for Neve to get into it.

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She tends to be one of those kids that you can only get a good picture of if she’s not paying attention.

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Emily found it difficult to relax as she was worried that Oona would burn herself (for the record Paul and I were there the whole time, so….. yeah).  The funny part is that Oona kept saying what we thought sounded like “Suck it!”.  Over and over.  We thought maybe she’d overheard Aunt Maddie insulting someone and decided she needed to tell US all to Suck It.  But we realized that what she was saying was in fact Chocolate. Our bad.  I guess we need to get our minds of out the gutter.  We also though that when she was saying “What’s That?” that she was saying “Oh shit!”

Beyond the back porch s’mores we have little to report fun-wise.  Hopefully things will be more exciting around these parts next week since we’ve got the holiday on SAturday and then we’re going camping for two days right after.

The garden is starting to show signs of life finally!  I poked a bunch more seeds in out there and mercifully it’s been hot and sunny for about a week now so they are all sprouting.  The pumpkin plants in the back are getting HUGE.

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I also spotted so tiny little pickling cucumbers starting to form!

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Check those little nuggets out!  I can’t wait for that crop to come in so I can make some fresh pickles!

And….. remember those pesky Japanese beetles I was lamenting before?  Eating my basil?  I found a solution that has worked so miraculously I can’t even believe it.  A zero chemical, enviromentally friendly, relatively low effort solution.  Remember these guys:

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Every day when I go out to water the gardens I collect the beetles (easy – just pluck them right off the plant) in a bucket, shake it up a bit to stun them, and dump them all in the chicken feeder.  I’ve never seen a chicken go so insane over a bug.  It’s like crack to them.  I’ve been doing this for about 4 days now and every day there’s been about 50% less beetles on the plants.  Today I plucked a grand total of 4.  Totally worth the 10 minutes of effort.

And now since my brain is tired and I have nothing else amusing or interesting I will leave you all with two pictures of my cute little baby who is no longer a baby but a cute little girl, and these photos clearly show that.

Sigh.

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The Summer Slow

There’s not a whole lot going on besides the usual craziness.  Paul bought yet another box truck so he wasn’t home this past weekend and I barely escaped Saturday and Sunday with my sanity intact.  The kids have been bugging me non stop to take them over to the community pool, but I just don’t have the energy to pay $25 and haul all of our  crap over there; especially when we are not allowed to have floaties (not cool when you have a toddler to wrangle) and there’s really only about 30 minutes of swimming per hour (they make everyone get out every 15 minutes for 15 minutes for these awful “rest breaks”.  Waste of money and makes for cranky kids.  We need our own pool.

The chickens continue to grow at an almost alarming rate.  They should be laying eggs by September sometime – we are looking forward to it!  We have also determined that the one we named Prudence is in fact the rooster, and Homer is a hen.  They’ve been re-christened “P-Roo” and “Homie-D-Hen”.  We also really really need to get our butts in gear and make them their movable run; they’ve picked the earth clean next to their coop.

The gardens look like crap thanks to the almost non-stop rain we’ve been experiencing (along with everyone else up and down the east coast).   The front vegetables seem to be faring the best of all of them, though the tomatoes are taking over and the Japanese beetles are eating my basil.

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My hanging baskets look awful.  I can’t seem to keep them watered well enough – it’s that straw – like lining their planted in.

The front herb garden is choking in weeds and the herbs have been all but drowned to death.  I’ve decided that come fall when the tomatoes die out I’ll transfer all of the herbs to the raised beds and I can plant the tomatoes out back next year.  That way the herbs will be happy.  And speaking of the back garden – of the approximately 832,000 seeds I planted I have barely anything sprouting to speak of.  I think it was just too wet and cold for them (except the peas – they are doing gangbusters).  Out of frustration on Saturday I poked a few dozen zucchini and yellow squash seeds just barely into the soil and now they are all sprouting – thanks to it being sunny and hot for the last several days (finally!).  I think a trip to Lowe’s for more seeds is in order.

I also got me a new Le Creuset stock pot, courtesy of Paul getting a bonus from work for all of his hard work.  I fit about 8 corn cobs in it comfortably!

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Of course looking at this site made both Paul and I think of a good seafood boil.  You can really tell how different we are based on the fact that he was thinking “crawdads” and I was thinking “Lobsters”.  Alas I had neither so we simply had corn on the cob with our dinner and I made my famous blueberry gateau.  This has been a favorite seasonal recipe for at least 10 years now.  I can’t even remember where I got the recipe, but I make about a zillion and a half of them while blueberries are in season.  After that it’s just too expensive.

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See?  Two cups of fresh blueberries tossed with sugar and flour and tossed on top of a nice cakey batter before going in the oven.

Then it comes out like this:

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It’s Paul’s favorite dessert ever.

Anyhoo, now that I’ve made myself hungry……that’s all I’ve got.  It’s summer, and it’s slow.  Hopefully there’ll be more to regale you with soon!

A Day In The Life

12:30 am – off to bed finally.

1:30 am – Wake up to pititful cries of Juice!  Juice! from little Oona.  Administer sippy cup (full of water, not juice), briefly fall back to sleep before waking to DONE!!! and having said sippy cup smacked rudely into face.  Put sippy cup back on nightstand.

2:00 am -Wake up to whining and cries of Cuddle!! from a very restless Oona.  Attempts to cuddle are met with cries of Stop it!  Stop it!  Hey!! Wrestle for 20 minutes trying to get her into a happy and sleepy place.

2:30 am.  PACI!!!! Fumble around in the dark looking for paci in the sheets.  Check under pillows.  Roll over and squint through the darkness on the floor.  Give up and turn on light, ignoring increasingly louder screams for paci.  Pull apart bedsheets and blankets lookng for GD paci.  Concede defeat, grab Oona, go downstairs in search of paci.

2:45 am – back to bed.

7:00 am.  Aware that Oona is wide awake and crawling over to side of bed to get down.  Stop her.  Get rewarded with crying.

10:00 am – Unhappily roll out of bed after enduring 3 hours of restless baby crawling all over and pulling at hair and trying to go downstairs by herself.

10:05 – make coffee while holding Oona, who has begun to scream Oh-gook!!! Grab yogurt out of fridge, sit Oona on bar stool in kitchen with her yogurt, sit down and attempt to drink coffee.

10:10 – finished with her yogurt, Oona throws herself face first off of stool onto floor and cries.

10:15 – cuddling on couch with Oona.

10:20 – Oona throws her weight around and spills now cold cup of coffee all over lap and couch.  Grumble loudly and get up to clean self off and make new cup of coffee.  Neve begins whining campaign in attempt to get her oatmeal made for her.

11:00 am – pull small tick off of belly while getting into shower.  Shampoo while Oona chants Shake your Butt and destroys a roll of toilet paper.

12:00 pm – Oona is total mess 15 minutes after being cleaned and dressed.  Neve wants lunch.  Oona is screaming for apples.  Remind Neve she still has half full bowl of oatmeal to finish.  Watch her stomp and cry.  Manage to elude Oona long enough to get dog on leash and out the back door to relieve herself.  Dog stands still and woeful, unwilling to answer her clearly pressing need due to the rain.  Sigh, return to house, give Oona juice, turn on Spongebob, go to garage with Oona screaming and hot on heels.  Listen to Oona scream on other side of door while getting chicken feed ready.

12:20.  Fall face first into chicken coop while attempting to feed.  Feebly swat away flies with poop – covered hands.  Close up coop after finishing chicken duties.

2:00pm – Cleaned of poop, lunch made and eaten, dishes done, Oona cleaned up from her 4th or 5th meal of the day, relaxing on couch trying to knit.  Oona believes this is “jungle gym” time.  Become increasingly frustrated over arms and feet in face, elbows digging into belly, rancid poopie smell coming from her diaper.  Oona grabs at knitting needles and rips sock in progress away and throws it across room.

2:30 pm – after much wrestling finally manage to convince Oona her diaper needs to be changed.  She continues kicking while being cleanup up, and the dog is frantically asking to go back out.  Throw out diaper, wash hands and grab leash with Oona hanging off of left leg.  Take dog and Oona out in rain.  Dog refuses to budge again.  Walk out into wet and muddy yard with dog, wait full 10 minutes before dog finally does her business.  Go back inside.  EMily and Neve are screaming at each other.  Break up fight.  Emily stomps away in a fury.  Neve wants to know if it is lunch time yet.

3:00 pm.  Oona a total cranky mess,  clearly in need of a nap.  Oona pulls Neve’s hair and tries to rip keys off of laptop.  Stop her and she yells HEY!! and begins throwing tantrum, still holding firmly to Neve’s hair.  Emily yelling at Oona to stop and at Neve to stop.  Yell at Emily to mind her own business.  Emily stomps away in a fury.  Oona lets go of Neve’s hair and demands a marshmallow.

3:30 pm.  Oona still crying for marshmallow.  Opt instead to put her in car and drive around the block to put her to sleep.

3:45 pm  -Oona is asleep after a brief trip to the end of our road.  Put her in bed.  Neve asks for a snack.  Emily wants help with making her bracelet.  Neve can’t find her crayons.  Clean up mess from lunch.  Feed dog, finally.  Emily begs to have coffee.  Refuse.  Emily begs louder and Neve joins.  Give emphatic NO!  EMily stomps off in a fury.  Remark under breath that she will really get it if she wakes up the baby.  Neve begins rough housing with dog.  Give menacing look at both.

4:00 pm – Tidy up downstairs and water hanging flower baskets out front that are too sheltered to benefit from the rain.  Send Emily out with umbrella to check the mail.  Receive incorrect bill of $2,000.00 from insurance company.  Spend half an hour on phone with them while Neve hops around singing and dancing, making too much noise and begging for a marshmallow.  Emily still wants coffee.

5:00 pm Dog barks loudly at Fed-ex truck delivering our monthly coffee shipment.  Neve screams Someone’s here!! and runs for the door, despite being told 800 billion times to NEVER do that.  Emily comes down the stairs with a wide awake Oona in her arms, claiming the dog woke her up.  Neve wants to know what is for dinner.  Resist urge to throw box of coffee at her.

6:00 pm Finish cooking spaghetti while holding Oona.  Find that her diaper has leaked.  Change shirt and put new diaper and dress on Oona.  Serve dinner to kids.  Dog needs to go out again.

6:30 grab plate of food to eat.  Oona screams Cuddle and demands to be held in lap – this makes eating difficult and pretty much guarantees she will be sharing.  Find her juice cup and refill it for her.  Allow kids to play on the Wii while attempting to gain some nourishment.

6:45 pm – Emily and Neve are screaming at each other over game.  Refuse to listen to any instructions.  Turn off Wii.  Emily stomps off in a fury.  Neve wants dessert.  Dog still needs to go out.

7:15 – Clean pile of dog poop off of living room floor.

7:30 pm – clean up dinner mess while holding Oona.

8:00 pm – Sit down on couch, feet aching.  Oona screams for crackers.  Ask Emily to get Oona one graham cracker.  Emily gives her the whole box.

8:10 pm – Oona feeds entire box of graham crackers to the dog.

8:30 pm – fight Oona to change another poopie diaper.

9:00 pm – Yell at older kids to clean up their various messes all over the living and dining rooms.  Neve whines and claims it’s all Emily’s fault.  Put Oona in jammies.  Grab Liquid antibitoics and dropper and begin hunt for Jasper cat.  Put Oona on bed and ask her to stay put while Jasper gets his medicine.  Lock self and cat in bathroom while Oona pounds on door and screams.  Wrap cat in towel, jab dropper in his mouth, squirt meds.  Cat becomes angry but swallows anyway.  Feel bad for the best behaved member of the household and let him go.

9:10 pm.  Open door for Oona who is now naked and wants to sit on her potty.

9:15 pm – re – diaper and dress Oona while Emily and Neve fight over something downstairs.  Ignore it.  Sit on couch with Oona and knitting and try to relax and wait for Oona to go to sleep.

10:00 pm – Neve running around like a wild hooligan and screeching with Oona.  Every attempt to calm them down fails.  Finally scream at Neve to sit quietly and watch tv or go to her room.  Neve stomps away muttering under her breath but goes no further than the kitchen.  Resumes wild behavior 5 minutes later.

10:05 pm – Yell at Neve and repeat warning.  Neve argues she doesn’t want to go upstairs and wants to play with Oona.  Begin counting to three.  Neve stomps toward the stairs crying and screaming.  Oona laughs and demands more “oh-gook”.

10:30 pm – Neve sneaks back down and begins roughing around with the dog and Oona again.  Yell at her yet again and send her back upstairs.  Hear crash from up there.  Ignore it.  Oona continues to careen around wildly and jump on couch, tearing away yarn and making knitting impossible.  Dog begins barking wildly at thumping noises Neve is making upstairs.  Give up on knitting and pour glass of soda.  Bemoan inability to drink alcohol due to being sole adult in the house.  Neve returns and begins crying about wanting to open dvd cabinet to pick out a movie.  Oona immediately tries to get in the cabinet as well.  Yell at Neve to go back upstairs while she throws massive tantrum.  Oona demands soda while Emily tries to cuddle her, making her mad.  Yell at Emily to let her go.  Emily stomps off in a fury.

11:15 pm.  Laying in bed with Oona trying to convince her to go to sleep.  Dog is chasing the cat downstairs and Neve keeps wandering around, slamming doors as she goes.  Emily joins cat chase and makes plentiful noise doing so.  Both girls eventually settle into their bedroom and slam door.  Presumably they have the cat.  They begin lots of giggling and thumping around.

11:45 pm – Oona is finally asleep.  Carefully make way downstairs to let dog out one last time.  It’s pouring.  Come in, lock doors, clean up and go upstairs.  Tell girls to be quiet and go to sleep.  Go into bathroom and change into pajamas.  Wash face, brush teeth, give cats water and food.  Attempt to sneak into bed with a book.

12:15 am – peer over edge of book at spider gliding down from ceiling toward the bed.  Smoosh him between two books, waking up baby.

12:20 am – turn off lights, snuggle up next to baby, closes eyes, pray she falls back to sleep soon.

Passing it On and A Summer Flashback – A Blog in Two Parts

Marie Grace did a post last week where she mentioned me and a few other bloggers as a way to spread the Blog Love, so I figured it’s only fair that I pay it forward and mention some of my favorite reads.  It’s really cool that Marie mentioned me because, as I’ve mentioned to her, she was my “gateway blog”.  Back in the day I was poking around the internets looking for some free knitting patterns and stumbled upon her site.  I was instantly hooked by her wool and child stories and not only became a regular lurker, but branched out to other blogs she mentioned, and others those bloggers mentioned, and so on.  As it turns out, Marie has dome it again by mentioning this past Friday yet more blogs I hadn’t known about.  So without further ado, here is a list of a few of the blogs that have provided me many hours of entertainment and vicarious living, as well as tips. tricks and crafting inspiration.

Marie Grace Designs. Obviously!  She lives on a budding farm in PA with her kids and chicks and geese and goats.  You had to know I’d love that.  Check out her original knitted designs – very classic and elegant.  She’s also the one I blame credit for getting me back into sewing – she mentioned the Favorite Things patterns.  I checked them out, and the rest is history.  My sewing bug came back out of retirement and bit me.  Hard.

The Pioneer Woman.  Not really a crafting blog, but way inspirational nonetheless.  Ree married an honest to goodness cowboy, got married, moved out onto a cattle ranch and had some kids.  The pictures are breathtaking and her stories are always fun to read.  My friend Melanie recently alerted me to her site knowing I would love it.  And I do!

Coal Creek Farm.  Another recent find – she’s mentioned on Pioneer Woman’s Page.  Lots of great stories and pictures.  Her chicken butchering story made me realize I do not want the mess and hassle of raising meat birds.   She doesn’t take herself too seriously and I imagine she’d be a hoot to hang with.  Highly amusing!

Maine Island Knits.  She lives (and knits!)  on a tiny island 8 miles off the coast of Maine and is married to a Lobsterman.  Dudes.  Need I say more?  You know I was a salty New England sea dog in my last life, right?  I just found her thanks to Marie Grace and I am remembering why I am still such a Yankee despite 12 – odd years in Virginia.

Martha’s Vineyard Fiber Farm Blog.   Martha’s Vineyard.  Fiber.  Farm.  Blog.  Sheep, wool, Martha’s Vineyard.  Hudson Valley, too.  That’s all I’m sayin’.

If you check out my blogroll you’ll notice a lot more links to fabulous blogs, some very well known ( you all know I love the Yarn Harlot, and who doesn’t?)  Check ’em out if you’ve got the time.

And now to part 2 – where I salivate over pictures from summer 2007, when I was pregnant with Oona.  Reading the Maine Island Knits blog made me all heartsick for Martha’s Vineyard and I don’t think I’ve ever posted pictures from that trip here.  We only had 2 days – but it was a glorious 2 days without children (except the one in my belly!).

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There’s Oona!  Hanging out, about a month away from her debut!  And those stupid shoes, let me tell you.  I got me some Birkenstocks because everyone always says how comfy they are, and don’t they make orthopedic shoes?  Anyway I needed all the comfort I could get at that stage so I bought some.  Not only were they NOT comfortable (still aren’t, despite 3 years of trying to break them in) but during a bout of bad judgment trying to quickly cross a busy street one of the shoes came off and tripped me.  I fell face first into a bush.  On a busy street.  Eight months pregnant.  People stopped their cars to ask if I was ok.  I actually cried of embarrassment.  Not my best moment.  It was the only bad part of an otherwise perfect weekend.

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People, this is somebody’s back yard. I kid you not.  Their house is to the left of this picture.  I could just about die of jealousy.  Check out that fog.

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It was pretty overcast and grey our first day on the island.  I loved it.  The beaches were EMPTY.  It made exploring and picture taking that much more fun.

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Martha’s Vineyard is covered in blue hydrangeas.  They are everywhere.  I wish I could get them to grow all around my house this way.  They must love that salty sea air.

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Menemsha fishing village.  I heart Menemsha.

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We went early in the day to check out that little nugget of a village when it was still pretty overcast and foggy.  We had heard that it was kind of the “thing” to go back in the evening  and sit on the beach to watch the sunset.

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Lucky for us the sun came out right around the time it needed to in order to make it’s nightly descent.

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We got to the village with plenty of time to spare – though the beach was definitely getting crowded by then.

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I love the boats.  I checked them all out before picking a nice spot on the beach to watch the sun go down.  Families and couples were having evening sand picnics – chilled white wine with steamers and lobster, courtesy of a little sea side shack called The Bite, that must have been fantastic, given the amount of traffic it had.  Had I not been pregnant (and with better planning on our part) I would have totally done the wine and clams.  (We did end up going to the Black Dog Tavern where I unwisely ordered a 3 lb. lobster.  Oy.  )

As the sun went down a fishing boat put out to sea, gulls flocking all around it.  People toasted the end of a beautiful day.

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Just about the most romantic thing ever.  When I win the lottery, I am totally buying a second home there.

Hi Ho Cherry – O!

I meant to have this posted earlier. but certain people don’t really appreciate how selfish I can be.  And they’re right.  I mean really – a whole 5 minutes to myself every few weeks is an awful lot to ask.  Poor Oona.  She’s sleeping now after a nice evening ride in the car.  But this post isn’t about my sleepy Oona.  It’s all about cherries.

Yesterday my friend Veronica and I took our collective kids and drove an hour out into the country to a new cherry orchard.  It got kind of scary for the last 10 minutes or so of the drive as we ventured further and further into nowhere and the roads got increasingly bad (as in we left pavement, then left gravel, then practically left dirt as well).  There was a brief fun moment when we passed slowly by a large bull grazing in the road.  He was almost as big as my van.  Then the crater – filled “road” mercifully turned and we were there  (let’s not forget that as used to farms and country as I am, being from the upstate portion, Veronica and I are aat heart still New York gals).   The view was worth it.

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See the Blue Ridge Mountains in the distance?

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The girls simply could not wait to get their bags and get down to some serious picking.  So we globbed on the sunscreen, got our bearings from the nice lady at the farm stand and headed into the trees.

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Oona squeaked along with Veronica and Natalie.

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And there they were – trees and trees of luscious cherries.  And nice wooden ladders to schlep around to each one (told you I was from NY.  Can’t have too many “y’alls” around these parts without the occasional “Oy” or “schmutz” or what have you).

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Oona kept Natalie and Amy busy, and I kept getting confused by Veronica talking to Amy.  No, I’m not tired.  No, I don’t need to pee…..oh wait you meant your kid.

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Neve was busy accusing me of “hogging the ladder”.  Not that she helped carry it from tree to tree or anything.

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She did enjoy sampling.

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My monkey Emily couldn’t tolerate me climbing higher than her.  It’s too bad she didn’t have a camera  – her view across the valley was much better than mine.

I think we stayed about 2 hours before the kids had had enough and were hot and hungry.  We had our haul weighed (Veronia bagged about 15 lbs, I bagged about 12 lbs), bought some cold drinks and headed home.  Oona was out like a light, the older girls sang cartoon theme songs all the way and Veronica and I admitted to liking The Nanny with Fran Drescher (hint: the handsome Englishman doesn’t hurt.)

Tomorrow I plan to make a pie and some muffins.  The rest we’ll eat as is.  If not for the hour drive I’d go back this week for more.  Cherry season is all too short.  But there’s light on the horizon – the peaches at the local orchard will be ready for picking the first week of July.  I am SO there!!!

Summer Trash

I’ve been amassing my trashy summer reading pile, and it has been waiting patiently on my night stand for me to break into it.  I discovered the virtues of buying used books on Amazon so I can satisfy my need to read.  Plus this fits the bill when I’m too tired to knit or sew but too awake to sleep.

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This is my idea of some good summer reading.  Some Stephen King (there is precious little left by him that I have not read), some Jeffrey Deaver (I like the Lincoln Rhyme series), some spooky New York and New England folklore, some Umberto Eco, and Amy Sedaris, who cracks me up.  I also have Davisd Sedaris’ When You Are Engulfed in Flames on order as well.    What’s your summer trash look like?

There’s also the pile o’yarn that’s been growing all winter, waiting for me to make time to turn it into socks and such.  For now it just sits there and mocks me with its glorious presence.

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Yes, it’s all from Blue Moon Fiber Arts. They are my dealer of choice, after all.  However, don’t be fooled into thinking that I am no serious yarn horder.  Don’t for a second let yourself believe this is the extent of my stash.  Or even a fraction of it.  Oh wait.  I think Paul may be around here somewhere.  I take it back! This is my whole stash!  In its entirety!  I swear there is no other yarn anywhere, and certainly not stuffed into the dark recesses of the closet or hiding out in the piano room! ~Insert innocent smiley face here~

Ahem.  Moving on.

I realized recently I have neglected to mention Mr. Poppy, our new hot air popcorn popper.  My girls were consuming mass quantities (channeling Jane Curtain here…) of microwave popcorn and I kept thinking about how expensive it was and how there’s lord knows how many chemicals in it.  So I got to thinking about the popper my grandparents had when they owned the hotel and decided to procure one for us.  Then we set out to buy straight up kernels and wound up buying a 50 lb. bag of them from Sam’s Club.  It’s a sickness, I know.  But Mr. Poppy makes lovely fresh popcorn and fills my kitchen with a nostalgic and lovely aroma from my childhood and the girls love it, even plain.

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Believe it or not, in the 3 or 4 months since we got Mr. Poppy we’ve managed to plow through about a third of that 50 lb. bag, and considering there’s usually little to no salt or butter on it when we make it that means my kids are snacking healthier.  Between that and the spinach brownies I am feeling a tad less guilty about all the ice cream we’ve been snorting since summer began.

Tomorrow I’ll tell you about the cherry picking trip we went on today and all the fruit my children voluntarily ate!