Monday, July 21, 2008

A Place of My Own

When I have trouble falling asleep I imagine being in a cabin in the woods. That's just the start. I imagine I am building such a cabin. A little one. Maybe the romance of building my own little teeny house began when I saw the house on the Tumbleweed website. Much as I love living with my family, there is such romance in having a place of one's own. I imagine a site to do my solitary work--the writing and painting--where distraction doesn't enter into the labor. I imagine looking out a window at a wooded scene that becomes fuzzy as my focus softens to catch up on a new idea that is germinating not outside but in my own imagination. I imagine a loft for napping or reading and a front porch large enough to sit and rock or perhaps lay a yoga mat for a few stretches. Maybe I'll take my sun salutations out to a clearing. Some hiking trails to meander on when I need time and space to delve into issues of plot or character. I do think my place of solitude would include a dog bed. My pup is a silent companion who really doesn't ask more of me than my company and a timely potty break or too.
I have been reading Michael Pollan's book The Omnivore's Dilemma. I am enjoying this book immensely--more on this later. I went on Michael's site to find out more and stumbled upon his book entitled A Place of My Own. It was the picture of his Place that startled me. It was my imagined place. I immediately ordered the book. Used. Sorry Michael. It is the story of how he builds such a place. I know it will make the best bedtime reading.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Summer J list

Oprah has her "O" list

These are a few things I love for summer

Johnson's Cucumber Melon Babywash-- We got this in a gift bag from a run. We don't have a baby, but the scent is very summery and I've been using it for bubble bath.

Night Blooming Jasmine Body splash--(Bath and Bodyworks) For when you've already showered but have gotten a little clammy from the hot day and need a pick-me-up.

Homemade Limoncello Spritzers--I made a batch of limoncello. Very sweet, but good summer cocktail when combined with club soda or Prosecco (Italian sparkling wine).

So You Think You Can Dance--When it is too hot to get off the couch--watch other people dancing the Rumba or the Pas de deux. My daughter is a dancer, so we really get into this show. Basically, our only TV show over the summer.

Dry Rose--My summer wine of choice has replaced a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. (Not that I don't still like them). I like the Roses from France. We also stocked up with a bunch from the Finger lakes when we went and they are great.

Watermelon Feta Salad--MY new favorite summer salad--and I am not a huge watermelon fan. It's easy. Cube watermelon, add torn arugula, crumbled feta cheese, thinly sliced red tomato, and a dressing of two tablespoons each extra virgin olive oil and white wine vinegar. This might sound strange, but it got rave reviews at my book club.

Gazpacho--Nothing says summer like this cold tomato soup.

Gilligan and O'Malley Sleepwear--Target has this great stylish and comfortable (mostly cotton) line of sleepwear seperates. I love them. Will probably be my gift to give this year.

IKEA--With the redo of several rooms of our house, we've been making many trips to IKEA. I just love going there. Lots of inspiration.

Brightly colored chalk pastels--Got a new set for my home blackboard/menu board. So much fun.

Iced coffee--For some reason, I can't make this successfully at home. So I always have to buy it on the fly and make excuses to do so.

Slow food--We are really appreciating local produce and our garden. Having made an anti-fast food pact this summer--initiated by my kids--we are looking at our little farming community with new eyes and appreciation.

Outside copper torches--I love summer evenings, sitting in the yard while our torches blaze.

Mama Mia--Went to see this with my Mom. It was truly a delight. Women--don't take your husbands. It's a girl movie. I saw SATC movie earlier in June with my friend Marsha. Once again--a girl movie. I think that girl movie time is a must. I hadn't done it for ages, and now I've done it twice. I think I need to plan more of them.

Allergy medicine--Don't tackle the summer without it!
As I think of more things for my favorites, I'll add them. This is a good start though. I have to think about music. And I'd love to hear about the favored summer items of other people. Please feel free to post in the comments section.

Monday, July 14, 2008


We just returned from vacation. Love vacation. We go to a place that is beyond relaxing for kids and adults. A friend's hilltop retreat in Ohio that is part barn, part spa, part field, part woodlands. The kids have fun playing, frolicking really. This year's pastimes included stargazing, toad catching, birdwatching, hoola hooping, swimming, hiking, treasure hunting, labyrinth walking, fishing, playing water tag with a domesticated deer, picnicking, throwing football, skipping stones, roasting marshmallows, toasting each other with good wine over grand buffets, setting off illegal fireworks, catching lightning bugs, watching the sun go down, hoola dancing (not to be confused with hoola hooping), playing cards, taking pictures, reading, and taking naps. AHHH!
It was most relaxing. But as with all good dreams, the dreamer must awaken to reality. We got home mid-week in time for my daughter to start her rehearsals for the Sound of Music which is pretty much a daily thing until the end of the summer. And then there was the mountain of laundry which we finished at the same time our 16 year old dryer decided to heave its last breath. Speaking of mountains. The Hills Are Alive with baskets of produce! One week plus lots of rain yielded one large mountain of squash. I've been gardening and and baking and processing zucchini ever since. (Apparently you can grate it and freeze it in bags.)
Every year, I try to see how long I can hold onto the vacation magic. Last year, we took home a lot of produce from the garden at Moondance where we stayed. As we ate some of our stash each night with dinner, I pretended to be ingesting that vacation calm. This year we didn't raid the garden, possibly because our own was doing so well. So I guess I lost the vacation magic rather early. But luckily for me, I took about 400 large-file digital photo which take forever to upload to where I will turn them into the annual vacation album. So I do get to look at them as I take an entire week to upload them. I remember. I sigh. Even after my new dryer buzzes to tell me that the load is done (a new feature), I pause and offer thanks to our supreme hostess, the good queen Susan, and all the vacation gods. You've given me a screen saver, a load of calming memories, lots of recipes to try at home, and the push to keep going until I can vacation again.

Blue tape

You've heard the expression--Cut through red tape. Well at our house we are cutting through blue tape. You'll remember that in January, we, in a state of cabin fever, changed up our living room a bit. That seemed to carry on. Recently we replaced old carpet and kitchen linoleum. Really, these needed to be replaced years ago, but something always came first. Heat pump. Car repair. You name it. Now was the time, but we needed to spruce up the paint job in the house. We have lots of color in our house, but a lot of white walls, too, that were still painted that industrial flat white that our builder used over 13 years ago. We chose to replace it with a soft gray that almost changes shades as the day goes on and the sun moves around the house. And then there is the trim which needed redoing. Mark doesn't like it when I wield a paint brush. I get a little too expressionistic for his liking on flat walls. He doesn't mind painting, but we must do it on his schedule. I can be patient. I can! But we are working on over a month of that blue painters tape in various parts of our house.
In the mean time, I have been using the time to reorganize cabinets and shelves as we invariably have to move them to paint. It will all be good when it is done. Fresh paint. Fresh flooring. An organized living space. But this cutting through the blue tape is getting old. I'm ready to get to the other side of blue.