I’m Back!

I’ve been MIA since Thanksgiving. My fan complained and demanded a new blog post. So fan (you know who you are) this one’s for you.

Christmas was lovely.  We spent it with our sweet neighbors, Rusty and Lynda and their extended family. Then on New Year’s Eve, we took a short cruise with other friends. Following that, I got sick. Cough. Sniffle. Sneeze. Headache. I finally broke down and took myself to the doctor.

We had to get on an airplane. I didn’t want my head to explode.

He diagnosed me with a sinus infection, prescribed antibiotics, and off we went to Southern California to check out step-daughter Amy’s new home and life.

She took us to the Chapman University, in Orange, California.  She works there as Assistant to the Dean of the Law School. I fell in love with the town of Orange. Small, quaint, charming stores and restaurants. If it weren’t so far away and expensive I’d want to relocate there.

I also fell in love with Magna Tiles! Amy’s kids, Deven and Mishri, have vast quantities of the creative magnetic shapes.  Magna Tiles are the next gift I’m buying for my cute grandson, Tate.  Mo and Stephen, don’t tell him. I want them to be a surprise.

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When we got home from California we headed to Anna Maria Island to pick up Bronson the Wonder Dog.  He was staying with his surrogate parents, Brookie and Earl.  While there I saw colorful felted scarves used as a wall hanging. I immediately decided my next creative endeavor would be knitting wool and then felting it.  I would reinvent myself as felter extraordinaire.

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This is a felted scarf I found on Etsy.

 

What’s felting, you ask?  If you’ve ever accidentally thrown a 100% wool sweater in the wash and shrunk it, you have felted.

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The following day I drove to JoAnn’s Fabrics, plunked down thirty-five big ones on six skeins of Paton’s Wool yarn and set out to knit my first felting project.

First I made a small test patch. I boiled it on the stove top until our kitchen smelled like a barnyard. The wool shrunk.  A lot. That’s when I realized I do not have the patience to create a super long scarf only to have it turn into half its original size.

But what to do with my yarn?  I couldn’t return it, I’d already ripped the labels off and tossed the receipt.  Therefore, I made dryer balls. Easy as pie. (Which isn’t that easy, therefore the expression is dumb.)

I made twelve in total. Here’s how. I wound the yarn into balls, stuffed them into knee-high stockings and tied the sections between with string.

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Looks like this artist used socks.

 

I dumped them into the washer on the steam setting. Then thru the dryer at the hottest temperature.

Voila! Wool dryer balls. Supposedly they make your clothing dry faster, eliminate static, soften clothes and are earth-friendlier than fabric softeners.

Now I just hope our clothes don’t come out of the dryer stinking of wet sheep.

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High School Reunions

I recently got this letter in the mail from a fellow Newark High School graduate Chuck Cover.  Seems I sent it to him about fifteen years ago, prior to a reunion.  I tried to trick him into thinking me fit and fancy.

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I’ve been to several NHS reunions, but two  stand out clearly in my mind.

My favorite reunion prank was played with a writer friend, Jane Guill, author of Simon and Schuster’s Nectar From a Stone.   Jane and I made up a fancy classmate, named her “Deweybrat” and spun an exotic world trotting lifestyle for her. Weekly we would meet for breakfast. Jane would dictate tales about  beautiful Deweybrat, owner of a lingerie factory.  Dewey traveled the world marketing her products.  She also had a gorgeous hunk handsome man in her life.  Jane based him on her hunk handsome Welsh husband, Andy.

I  asked family members and friends if they had any exotic trips coming up.  Jane wove the locations into our letters. My friends then posted mail from all over the world!   I have no idea how many we sent, but the prank went on for the better part of a year.  I even paid for a ticket for me,  as Alice, and for Dewey, anonymously.

It was a gas, and we had the reunion committee racking their collective heads to figure out who Deweybrat was.  There was some finger-pointing, but I denied any knowledge.

Deweybrat, being fictional, was unable to attend.  Jane invented a fire in Dewey’s garter belt factory.   Emergency!  Deweybrat couldn’t attend!  I then sent the committee a last-minute Western Union telegram voicing Dewey’s regrets.  Boo Hoo.

I specifically asked Western Union if point of origin would show  up on the telegram.  I was assured not.   WRONG.  My cover got blown on the afternoon of the reunion.   That evening the committee presented me, aka Deweybrat,  a white feather boa.  It was very Deweybrat-ish,  but a  disappointment after nearly a year of crafting letters and sending them from afar.

My second favorite reunion was my ex-husbands.  I wore the name tag of some woman who failed to show up.  All evening people were talking to me about how I’d changed,  Pretty funny.  There were amazing and amusing stories I learned about my fake me.  Fibbing has its advantages.

 Nectar From a Stone by Jane Guill

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How knitting saved my marriage

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I have a wonderful vintage button collection, but still love to purchase buttons I don’t need with money I don’t have.
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This is my latest project.  I’ve found a victim and will ship it in the fall.  Isn’t the  big green button great?  Found it in a Chicago thrift store, as well as those rust colored ones.  They even have a hint of purple. Perfection.

I am an awful knitter…and that’s good because practicing my knitting makes road trips with my husband way less stressful.

When I first began knitting I dropped so many stitches you could fit your head through the holes in my scarves.  So I’d knit patches to cover the holes.  Then I’d sew buttons over the holes in the patches.  My early scarves were really weird.  Twelve inches wide in spots, four inches wide in other places.  But that didn’t stop me from handing those odd rags out to (long-suffering) friends.  One was so heavy and thick I’m pretty certain my buddy had to crawl when wearing…it dragged her to the pavement.

Here’s how my bad knitting has saved my marriage.  I only knit in the car when Jim and I take long road trips.  He hates the way I drive.  I hate the way he drives right back.  He follows too closely causing me to have to press the imaginary brake in the passenger seat foot well.  And occasionally gasp loudly.

I took up knitting so I am looking down when he’s driving.  Eyes on the needles!  We’re both happier that way.

I suppose he hates my driving because I’m quite a bad driver.  I never knew it until a whole lot of people informed me.  I’m slow.  Hands nervously at two and ten.

In 2005 I bought myself a darling Mini Cooper. I chose the fastest engine, manual transmission, British racing green and SO CUTE.  That zoom-zoom engine was totally wasted on me.  I probably never drove that Mini over 55 mph. I swore I’d NEVER sell that car–her name was Maude.

Then, much to Jim’s dismay, I opted to trade Maude in for a mini-van– a baby blue, Honda Odyssey named Stella. We travel with our beloved dog, Bronson. More about him in future posts. I wanted Bronson to have total comfort and several cup holders.

The day we mini-van shopped Jim brought along Maude’s title. He swore he’d only mini- van shop ONCE, so we’d better damn well find the right car that day.

Well, he was wrong. We mini-van shopped twice.  I traded Stella in for a newer, slicker model. Gracie. She’s gray.  Creative, eh? She has a little refrigerator in the front seat. And, happily, she has a fine brake in the foot well of the passenger side.

We’ll take Gracie to Chicago in August.  Jim will be driving.  I will be knitting.  Anyone want a scarf?  I’ve gotten better! Rarely drop stitches, but still add patches and buttons for fun.  All my new friends are Floridians.  I need some cold weather victims. LMK if your neck needs warming up.

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I finally learned to cook, thank you very much Ina Garten!

I love the Barefoot Contessa.  If you don’t use her recipes, start! They are all marvelous.

I used to be considered a terrible cook. My go to dinner party recipe was mom’s “Party Chicken”. Party chicken consisted of rolled up boneless chicken breasts wrapped in bacon,  then smothered with a mixture of Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup and sour cream.  I sprinkled on a dash of paprika to make it beautiful.  The recipe was very 70’s and evidently not very good.
There came a time when one regular guest announced he wasn’t coming to dinner ever again if I served “f’n” party chicken.  (Richie, you know I’m talking about you.)

Then I found Ina! Last night we had dinner guests. I served all Ina recipes. Oven roasted chicken with lemon and onions (See sidebar) .  As sides I served green beans gremolata and  herbed basmati rice (both also Ina’s recipes).   The chicken recipe came from her latest book,  Cooking for Jeffrey.

Yum Yum and triple yum. One guest gushed about how much he loves my cooking. Clearly he never had my party chicken.

I did go off the reservation and make key lime pie with Joe and Nellies key lime juice. Easy Peezy and always delicious. Made real whipped cream to top it and even zested a lime for garnish. Yes, I’m awesome. You will be too once you start making Ina’s recipes.

I love Ina.  Maybe I’ll write her a letter today.  Better yet, maybe she will stumble across this blog just as you have!

I know you are out there. It’s just a matter of time before you find me.

Now, on to finish my book club book–The Girls of Atomic City.  After you read Ina’s recipe, go read that book.  Very good read.

Barefoot Contessa

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The Girls of Atomic City

Day Two of Manifesting my new reality

My “Big Dream” has been to be a writer. Published, read by many, loved by most, making lots of big fat dollars and having fun doing it. My sister and brother-in-law have nipped at my heels to do this for years.

But those damn doubts always crept into my brain, “Why me, God?” Now I’m saying, “Why NOT me!” During my meditations I have asked BF (Benevolent Force aka Higher power aka God) to use me, put me where I’m supposed to be. I’ve started this blog! That’s writing, isn’t it? I’m writing for the Universe who will eventually stumble across this. Lots of them are sixty-five too.

I figured my blog would be all the writing I would be doing for the foreseeable future. Then, last night, my thirty-three year old daughter, Maureen (aka Mo), called me. She and I gabbed about this ‘n that. She told me she and her husband, Stephen, had watched the movie 20th Century Woman. Something about a single mother rearing a child through the 50’s and 60’s. Following the movie Mo and Stephen had a discussion about how they don’t know their parents. They know their mother. They know their father. However they don’t know them as humanoids outside of their roles as mom and dad.

She then asked me to—Drum Roll Please—WRITE! Yup, I asked the BF to use me. I asked BF to put me where I’m meant to be. And BF responded by giving me this blog, followed by giving me a request to write even more.

Possibly that little whisper inside my head, the one quietly repeating, “please please please write….”,
KNEW what my path was to be. I simply had to get outta’ my own way. Now I have.

Later today I’ll write my first few pages for Maureen.

But first to manifest a shower 🙂

All of you out there, have a great day! Dream big and believe. The Universe will give you all you want if you have faith.