7 Quick Takes: Summer Fashion, Sacred Heart, and Miscellany

— 1 —

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New camera (phone) alert!  I upgraded my phone, and the new camera is so much better.  Compare the old photo (left) to the new one (right).  Maybe it’s just my over-scrutinizing photographer brain talking, but they look so much better to me.  Full Instagram-Speed ahead!

— 2 —

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I recently pulled out an old unfinished knitting project, and I’ve been making steady progress on it every evening.  I’m pretty sure I bought the yarn and started working on it before I got married, so it’s been languishing in craft purgatory for a long time.  The finished product is huge, but I’m hopeful that someday I’ll get it done.  Just in time to send it to college with Maddy.

— 3 —

Netflix’s suggestions for me are usually dubious at best, but I followed their advice and watched the first episode of their original series Chef’s Table. Each episode profiles a different chef (ahem, hence the name), and the first one is about Italian chef Massimo Bottura. I thought it was fascinating from both a culinary and artistic standpoint, and his relationship with his wife was very endearing. I haven’t gotten to the other episodes yet, but I highly recommend the first one.

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Our balcony garden is, well, still alive, and that’s something!  The morning glories are starting to climb on the balcony and each other, making for some complex knots.
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Globe Basil, with its small leaves, is becoming my favorite variety.  They’re so small that they can be tossed into the pot without any chopping, which saves a step.  The poppies, in the same planter, are still shooting up, and since I don’t know much about flower gardening, I’ll consider that progress.garden 6-12-4 The blooming flowers are still going strong, possibly due to the fact that someone else did the hard part before entrusting them to me.  It’s nice to have such a vivid splash of color out there!garden 6-12-6

— 5 —

Maddy and I had the chance to go to a new-to-us mall yesterday (the open-air kind that’s probably more common in warmer places but is a novelty around here). We’re happy to report that the summer fashions currently in stores are great. Fashion is cyclical, so I guess we’ve circled back around to a time that pleases me. Neither of us really needs anything new right now, but here are some things that caught my eye. There’s a definite theme of skirts and nursing-friendly dresses here…

Loft. I’ll be watching for this one to go on clearance.
Anthropologie ($198).  This will never go on deep enough clearance for my budget.
Loft.  Vertical stripes – yes.
JCrew.  The color is fantastic.
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H&M.  I’m not exactly sure what you’d wear under it (it’s clearly a little short as is), but it looks breezy and comfortable.
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H&M.  Something a little different from the usual t-shirt, and there were cuter colors in store.

— 6 —

Sacred HeartIt’s a solemnity today!  That means our home altar is decked out, and I’m off to make (meaty) lasagna and cake for dinner.  There’s no particular tradition behind either choice, except that together, they’ll use up a whole container of ricotta.

— 7 —

This week’s MaddyCam comes courtesy of her “new” walker, which is an awesome development. It keeps her happy for long enough that I can empty the dishwasher or do some cooking, but she really loves it when one of us gets down on her level.

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7 Quick Takes: Summer Travel, Gardening, and Reading

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Well, I’m back home after a last-minute roadtrip/vacation to Minnesota and parts beyond. Two flights to Minnesota, a roadtrip to Kentucky and back, and then a week in MN was precisely what the doctor ordered (not literally) for Maddy and me. She was a real champ on the planes, we got to go to the ordination and first Mass of a good friend, and then we spent lots of time with family.
Thanks to another family that preferred to cram into one row together, Maddy and I ended up with three seats to ourselves.  Super Tripper slept for all but ten minutes of our return flights, which meant that I got to watch most of the Captain America sequel.  US Air, you may not provide snacks, but a choice of free movies is good consolation.

Also, TSA Precheck? A godsend for parents travelling solo. I didn’t have to take my shoes or belt off, my liquids got to stay stowed, and we were able to skip past an insane holiday weekend line at the airport.

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I thought it would be a lot longer before my large “Too Small for Madeleine” box filled up with clothes. At this rate, she’s going to get a storage unit for her first birthday.

— 3 —

This year’s attempt at a garden is making good progress. I decided to drastically lower my expectations from where they were last year, and only planted herbs and flowers, no vegetables. I didn’t get around to doing anything with it until after Mother’s Day, when I went to Home Depot, picked up some promising seeds, and planted them somewhat randomly. It’s possible that the “drought-loving” California Poppies shouldn’t have gone in with the basil. We’ll see how that ends up. The planter that looks thought-out and well cared for was a birthday present from my sister, who took the time to make sure everything was alive and thriving before she gave it to me. The red geraniums were a Mother’s Day gift from Maddy, and I love them. (No kidding, though – bright red is an impossible color to photograph well. Leave those scarlet dresses on the rack at David’s, bridesmaids.)

My gardening buddy is certainly enjoying her time outside, too.

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— 4 —

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Anyone who’s seen me in the last few weeks has had the privilege of hearing me rave about our new diaper covers, but in case you missed out, here it is:

Our size one Thirsties covers were too small, so I ordered new covers from Assunta Store. They only come in one size (with extra snaps to make them really adjustable), they cost half of what we had been paying, and they’re extremely well constructed and durable. Already, they’ve contained several hazardous waste situations. The best part of all is that they’re made in China…by Little Flower Projects, a group that provides care to medically challenging orphans. It’s an organization that we’ve supported for the last couple years, and I’m thrilled to be able to support them in this way as well. Cloth diaper users, this is the best there is.

— 5 —

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I finished a book! Deadlines + library due dates have not worked in my favor lately, but I was bound and determined to finish this one. I’ve been a lifelong fan of Laura Ingalls Wilder, and have read the Little House series more times than I can count. I currently have three full sets of the books at home. I’ve been to nearly all of the historical sites associated with the series (Lake Pepin, Walnut Grove, De Smet, Mansfield…what am I missing?). To say that the books played a part in my childhood would be an understatement.

When I first heard about the publication of Pioneer Girl, Laura’s briefer and more accurate memoir, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to read it. Sure, I knew that she had omitted some things from the Little House books, but I didn’t know if I wanted my Little bubble burst. I had lots of time to think about it, anyway, because when I requested the book from the library in November, I was 113th on the wait list. It showed up a few weeks ago, and I jumped in.

In the end, I do highly recommend it. There are lots of interesting stories that didn’t make it into the series (usually for obvious reasons: violent drinkers, serial killers, and some stories with questionable morals would’ve been out of place). The character development and backstory about the publication were fascinating as well. Now that I’ve finished the true version, I’m putting the whole series on my list for a reread.

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Enough said.

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Here’s the Weekly Maddy. She really wants to be crawling, but given her total inability to lift her gut off the ground, I’m guessing we’ve got quite a while. She does pivot pretty effectively, anyway. In the meantime, I don’t mind looking at the dimple of concentration.

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7 Quick Takes: Unsolicited Relics, Sunshine, and Talking to Herself

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Finished! The maniturgium I blogged about last week is done, in plenty of time to put in the mail to the Father-to-be. I finished the embroidery on Wednesday night, ironed it late into the night (and ironed and ironed…), and then sewed it up. In the end, it was a fun project and I was pleased with how it turned out. It made me want to do more embroidery, once I clear some other things off my craft docket. It was also the last thing on my to-do list that had a real deadline, so now I can focus on some more open-ended projects like decluttering and a long-standing knitting project.

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— 2 —

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At least one of us needs sunglasses.

In the space of a week, the weather went from “chilly spring” to “crank the AC.” Between that and some rapid clothing-size changes for Maddy and I (in opposite directions, thankfully), we're doing a lot of wardrobe shifting. Maddy and I walked our package to the post office yesterday, and it was a warm trek. Naturally, she took a much-needed nap on the way there, so I was loath to go home and wake her up. We stopped for an iced coffee, and then continued on to the library. It was a good 2-mile stretch of the legs for me, and a good nap for her, but the heat had pretty well fused us together by the time we got home.

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IMG_1338We also walked past a rummage sale where this was for sale. Any guesses as to what it is? It was about 3-4″ high, and pretty heavy. A bookend for very small books? I didn't get it, so the question is totally theoretical.

— 4 —

Speaking of mysterious religious goods: I've gotten some unsolicited and not entirely welcome things in the mail lately. Somehow, I ended up on the mailing lists of random Catholic non-profits who fundraise by sending “gifts” in the mail. When I was a kid, they just sent things like address labels and greeting cards – things we had no qualms about throwing away. The envelope I got a few weeks ago raised the stakes: it contained a relic of Padre Pio. The letter didn't identify what class or kind of relic, so our guess is that it was once touched to something that was touched to something from Pietrelcina. Regardless, it seems highly sketchy to mail an unsolicited relic (or “relic”) to a large mailing list. We're a little stumped on what to do with it, since we can't really get rid of it but don't have a place to put it.
relics

— 5 —

My favorite time of the day has become the three minutes in the evening when the light comes through the windows and illuminates the Pieta on the bookshelf. It usually coincides with the evening Baby Meltdown, and it's a nice reminder to take a quiet minute to myself.
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— 6 —

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Maddy and I got outside this afternoon to do a little gardening. We planted some basil and mixed in some California Poppy seeds (“drought-resistant” means “hard to kill,” right?). We'll get some Morning Glories in the ground tomorrow. Last summer's garden suffered a mortal blow at the hands of morning sickness and exhaustion, and I'm hoping for better this year. Now that the garden is planted, it might be time to take down the Christmas lights.

— 7 —

Finally, your weekly installment of “Only a Grandmother Will Watch,” with love from Maddy.

https://vimeo.com/127290071

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How does your garden grow?

 

I’ve had these photos sitting in a draft for several days and they’re rapidly becoming outdated, so here’s the first of (likely) many posts about our balcony garden.

Our front porch is pretty large (5′ x 14′ or so, I’d guess), so I knew as soon as we moved in that I wanted to do a little container gardening when the time came.  Cue the longest winter ever.

Now that things have warmed up for the long term, I’ve got several planters’ worth of herbs and vegetables growing; here are the highlights.

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I planted some family heirloom seeds, and not a single one sprouted.  They were a few years old and probably stored in less-than-ideal conditions, so I blame myself for that failure.  I picked up a 4-pack of plants and planted them near the balcony railing, in the hopes that they’d find their way up.  No such luck.  They were clearly getting too heavy for their own good, so I tied them on to the railings, which seems to have helped.  They’re still getting taller, but I’m puzzled by the dead leaves at the bottom.  Those are the leaves that tend to get wettest when I water them, so I’m inclined to think that there’s something in our city water that doesn’t agree with plants.

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Basil

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Same problem with the basil: it’s growing quickly (it’s almost twice as big now as when I took these pictures last week), but the bottom leaves are disgruntled.  As long as the rest of the plant looks healthy, I guess I’m not too worried, but curious.

 

Red Bell Peppers

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I know, these plants are way too close together.  I didn’t actually want six plants, but that was how they were sold.  I thought I’d plant them and let them duke it out in the planter, and just keep the top three.  (Un)fortunately, they all look good, so it’s time to find a new planter.  All six plants cost less than a pound of red peppers at the grocery store, so it won’t be hard to come out ahead on these anyway.

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Tomatoes

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Now on to the real experiment of the year: tomatoes in bags.  It’s been done before, but will it work here?  I’m incredibly cheap, so the idea of using 99-cent Aldi bags is really appealing.  So far, the tomatoes (San Marzano variety) seem to be doing well.  They’re certainly getting bigger and one of them may have the start of a blossom (or maybe that’s just my wishful imagination).  For the sake of next year’s planning: each bag is holding about 1 cubic foot of dirt; whether more is needed will depend on if these work out.

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Sink or swim, more updates will surely be coming through the summer!