Sand and Sea

I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.
~”Sea Fever” by John Masefield
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My first real memories of summer are of my family’s week spent at “the beach.”  Every summer while I was growing up, we visited the coast of southern Maine with my grandparents.  Every day it didn’t rain would find us basking (or baking) in the sun, reading in a beach chair, building sandcastles, sifting the tide pools for crabs and starfish, and swimming until we were numb.  Grammy and I are incurable beach combers, and we would happily stroll across the sand, looking for new treasures.  Prize finds included whole sand dollars, sea urchins, and seaglass.
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“Sand and Sea” is a tribute my love for the ocean.  It is a mosaic created with a whimsical mix: glass, shell, wood, pearl–all materials you might find in the flotsam and jetsam of the ocean.  I hope it gives the impression of looking down at the sand and water as the broken waves race up the shore–don’t let your toes get wet.
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This was gifted to a friend, who gave me some of the beads used in this piece.  The beads had belonged to a dear friend of hers, who passed away several years ago.  It was a pleasure to use them, and in a way, it felt to me like a collaboration between the three of us.  I hope this piece reflects some of Bonnie’s spirit.
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Lilacs

I’ve been waiting to have an outdoor photo-shoot with my embroidery “Summer Lilac” for about three weeks now, watching for the unfurling leaves, and then the tightly-closed flower buds, and finally the fragrant cone on our lilac bushes.

Out in the May sunshine after a day of rain, engulfed in the heavy fragrance, and politely keeping out of the way of eager bees, it was no hardship to take these photos.

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Interestingly, my camera and I disagree on the color of the real lilacs…they are purple, not bright pink!  The photo above is the most accurate representation of their color, and the beads in the embroidery coordinated beautifully with the real flowers.

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If you would like lilacs in your life year-round, “Summer Lilac” is available in my Etsy shop.

Etsy Shop: Summer Lilac

Sumer is icumen in,
Lhude sing cuccu!
Groweþ sed and bloweþ med

And springþ þe wde nu,
Sing cuccu!

Summer has come in,
Loudly sing, Cuckoo!
The seed grows and the meadow blooms
And the wood springs anew,
Sing, Cuckoo!

–“Sumer Is Icumen In,” 13th-century English round

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Every May I look forward to throwing open the windows of my dining room and letting the sweet fragrance of our lilac bush drift indoors.  If I want to cut a few stems to decorate my table, I usually have to compete for the flowers with a host of bees, which find them irresistible.  My love of lilacs is the inspiration behind a small new piece of embroidery–complete with a tiny, seed bead bumble bee.

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The lilac stem was worked on cream cotton and white lace. Purple seed beads evoke the four-pointed flowers, which attract a yellow-and-black beaded bumble bee. The work is framed in a four-inch wood (bamboo) embroidery hoop, and is backed with purple felt.

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I’m really enjoying these small pieces–they are a crafting version of instant gratification, and provide a nice break from the larger pieces I’m working on.

If you would like a bit of summer in your life all year ’round, this is available at Ash & Acorn on Etsy.

Everything Green and Growing

I’ve never thought that I would like gardening much.  Kneeling in the dirt until your knees ache, the sun beating on your back, swatting at insects, yanking up weeds only to have them return as soon as you turn around–no, thank you.  A succession of dried-out, dead houseplants from my year in Texas seemed to confirm my brownthumb.

So I am still surprised when I go out into the garden and spend hours kneeling (on a really cushy pad), in the cool shade, with insects kept away by lemongrass spray, meditatively yanking up weeds–and enjoy it.  Surprised enough, in fact, that I reflexively procrastinate on gardening until it must be done.  I hope that the enjoyment will become a stronger memory than the distaste.

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In case I forget why I put up with six-month, subzero winters laced with multiple feet of snow–this is why:

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A happy thyme plant on the sunny kitchen windowsill.  Its neighbors are oregano, basil and chocolate mint.

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Last year, for better or for worse, we planted strawberry plants as groundcover in our front flower garden (a.k.a. “edible landscaping”–we are always either early or late to these trends).  They have enthusiastically filled up the available space, and this year we are getting our first real harvest.

They are small, but delicious, and have deep flavor ranging from candy-sweet to tart.

Picking strawberries is like a treasure hunt.  Only the thought of seeing how many I can gather “this time”–and love for my husband–keeps me from popping all of them in my mouth as I go.

A bowl of summer:

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Hello, Good-bye

We're more than half-way through 2016. Maybe my head will stop spinning by the time November does its fly-by.

We’re more than half-way through 2016. Maybe my head will stop spinning by the time November does its fly-by.

It’s a little rough due to lack of Photoshop, and the fact that I had to put it up when given the chance, because June will be totally gone before we know it.

The Log Book: August 2015

What?  August can’t be gone already!  The leaves start changing early here, but autumn doesn’t officially start until September 23, so…summer isn’t over yet!  Keep the lemonade coming (and maybe some sweet cider, too).

Latest projects:
I surprised myself by getting many small projects done lately.  And thank goodness, because there’s still quite a long list waiting.  I’ve cleared out/rearranged the spare bedroom closet, set up make-shift linen storage in the upstairs hallway, and organized all my scrapbooking paraphernalia.

-Framed necklace
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I grew up spending a week every summer in Wells, ME with my family and my dad’s parents.  One year my grammy bought me a sea-gull necklace while we were out shopping.  I don’t wear it anymore, so I wanted to do more than keep it in a jewelry box.  A table-top frame and a piece of sky-patterned scrapbook paper now display my keepsake.

-Scrap-scrapbook paper holder/waiting-to-be-mailed-to-Prilly holder
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Too many magazines, too little storage…and the same goes for scrapbook paper.  I like to have the smaller scraps available and easy to see.  The scrap paper is sorted by color and stored in binder sheet protectors, which I already had to hand.  Another box holds all the stuff I have collected to send to Prilly

-Letter-writing desk
While organizing my scrap-booking paraphernalia, I realized that all my letter-writing items–stationery, address labels, stamps, address book, etc.–were scattered in five different places across the house.  We have a large end table that doesn’t fit anywhere except in front of our living room window, so I decided to make it into a letter-and-bill-writing station.  Eventually we hope to clean out our under-stairs closet, build a desk and move the letter-writing in there–especially since our Christmas tree has to occupy this space come December!
Inspired by this post at “House for Five.”

This is part of why I write these posts–when I see the list of things I’ve actually accomplished, it’s quite exciting!  I don’t feel quite as bad about the things that I didn’t get around to doing.

What’s cooking?
I’m still getting used to the “new” normal of the working-cooking relationship, but I think I’m starting to get the hang of it.  I’ve also accepted that we are going to be eating out or using pre-packaged food more, so I’ve started budgeting for the inevitable take-out night.  It’s not ideal, but it’s not going to kill us, either.
This month’s favorites:
-It’s not summer without potato salad!
Baked bean sandwiches!  This idea came from Taste and See II, an Orthodox fasting cookbook given to me by my khouria (embedded link directs you to the cookbook’s website).  We modified the recipe by using hoagie rolls and adding tomato, and cheese and coleslaw when it’s not fasting season (the coleslaw makes it so good!).  As the recipe says, it’s a great summer meal!  Two tips: I always doctor the baked beans a little bit 🙂 and, cook them until they aren’t very soupy–that way the sandwiches aren’t soggy and messy to eat.

Reading:
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, and the Half-Blood Prince, and the Deathly Hallows
Stardust
by Neil Gaiman

Watching and listening:
Harry Potter movies
M*A*S*H season 4

I’m looking forward to:
Um…actually, I’m not really looking forward to the start of September.  Generally I love autumn, but I don’t want to be any closer to six months of snow than I have to be.

Other happenings:
-Shaun has been working 11-12-hours a day, 6 days a week since the end of June, which has been grueling…especially for him, of course, but really for both of us.  Somehow he has still managed to help my brother and sister-in-law move apartments, study for promotion and help me celebrate my birthday.  I love him.  But I hope this exhaustive schedule comes to an end very, very soon.

-Probably thanks, at least in part, to his joints being weakened by being on his feet 11-12 hours a day, Shaun injured his knee in mid-August.  Thankfully, he is almost completely recovered by now.  We just hope this won’t happen again.

-I celebrated my birthday this month!