Thursday, May 14, 2009

Time to Cuddle

I had a good lesson in attitude adjustment yesterday. Here's yet another fact I'm learning about our new unschool world: I feel better and get more done if I'm more relaxed about my own agenda. I'm discovering that it's not terribly realistic to expect to oversee Miss C's daily lessons, while also doing laundry, cleaning the garage, making phone calls, upgrading software on the computer, grilling chicken, and trying to get a bit of legal work done.

Don't laugh. That really does describe yesterday morning.

So today is different. My to-do list looks a tad more realistic. And we've already remembered to do something that both Miss C and I enjoy -- we take a "cuddle break" in the middle of the morning. We snuggle on the couch, or lie on the bed, and cuddle and read together or look at a book, or just talk. It's lovely quiet connecting time.

Sure beats recess on the playground. I highly recommend taking a cuddle-break with whom-ever is around your house!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Where does the time go?

My mornings always seem to disappear. How does that happen?

I get up, shower, have coffee, and make my plan. I'll get some laundry done. I'll fill a bag with stuff for donation or disposal (I'm on a one-a-day Purge of Stuff around here), and I'll do chores and then get started on a quilting project. I have plans! I'm ready to go! So, I go upstairs and wake Miss C, get the dog out for a romp in the yard or a walk around the neighborhood... I check my email, post my daily flickr picture... I'll do a bit of work (jumping up to transfer laundry around); I'll answer a phone call or two... I'll get Miss C squared away with her lessons for the day...

But wait, somehow, it's late morning, or almost lunchtime.

How DOES that happen?

Today, Miss C awakened with a migraine. Wednesdays seem to be a migraine day, for some reason. I'm keeping track of stuff in a calendar so I can see if I can find patterns. What is it about wednesdays?

Sigh. It's noon and I haven't yet even cleaned up my studio table (today's chore).

Maybe I need to start listing the things I *do* accomplish instead of the things I plan but don't get to. Then I'd feel like I was getting somewhere, even if it wasn't the "where" I planned to get to....

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Bokeholic delight

One of the things that I love about photography is that it makes me see the world differently. Even when I don't have my camera with me, I find myself noticing lines and colors and things that would make a great picture.

I snapped this macro shot of a bottle brush bloom in my friend's backyard. I grew up in a neighborhood where lot of people had these in their yards, and I disliked them because they give off a sticky substance that I inevitably got in my hair when I ran and played under them. But they're amazing and interesting blooms, and I had a great time taking macro pictures of them.

I love bokeh. That blurry, spotty, glowy background? The photographic term is "bokeh." I'm a bokeh-holic.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Tiptoe Away from Tip Top Shoes

Every once in a while, a shopping experience makes me so mad that I decide to take action.  

Over the weekend, I decided to order a pair of shoes online, after I'd seen them in a store but was unable to find my size.  My online search led me to Tip Top Shoes, an online site that had relatively positive reviews.  They had the exact shoes I wanted, in the exact color, in my size.  Perfect.

In a big statement at the top of its front page, Tip Top Shoes promises "FREE SHIPPING on all orders over $100."  Go ahead, click on the link and go see.

Free shipping, that's what it says, right?  Do you see any qualifications?  Any statement that it applies only to certain things?  

I placed my order, for a pair of shoes over $100.  Dandy.  And when I got to the part of the order process where it totals your order, I found that it was charging me $7 for shipping.  I went back and tried to find where to activate the "FREE SHIPPING" promise.  Finally, when I couldn't find it, I put a note in the "comment" section of the order form saying that I couldn't find how to get the "FREE SHIPPING on all orders over $100" promised by the web banner, so they should deduct the shipping charge when they processed my order.  

This morning, I received this in my email from Tip Top Shoes: 

In response to what you wrote below, Yes our banner does say free shipping over anything over $100, but please see our shipping policy

All website orders will be shipped FREE via UPS Ground within the continental United States on all non-sale orders over $100.00. Sale Merchandise is any item listed with a price ending in .99  Any other requested method of shipping, or any international purchase will be paid for at the customer's expense.

I emailed them back to point out that their "FREE SHIPPING" promise didn't exclude sale items and specifically applied to "all orders over $100," and that as a result it was deceptive, their response was that they no longer had my shoe available!  Hmmmm.  

This is just the sort of thing that makes me cranky.  If you say "free shipping," then give "free shipping."  What's so complicated about that?  

Well, beware Tip Top Shoes.... I'm heading straight to, myself.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Moosewood Memories

When I went to Cornell Law School in Ithaca, New York (more years ago now than I'd like to think), I was a vegetarian. And handily enough, there was a wonderful vegetarian restaurant that quickly became one of my favorite spots, the Moosewood Cafe.

Nowadays, Molly Katzen is in the vegetarian chef hall of fame, and she's produced a whole bunch of really great cookbooks. But the first classic Moosewood Cookbook is still a favorite of mine, along with book #2, the Enchanted Broccoli Forest.

Anyway, I've been craving ratatouille and when I pulled the Moosewood Cookbook off of the shelf to make sure I had the ingredients, it brought back such great memories. My book is worn and spattered, and the ratatouille page is the most rumpled and spotted of them all. So, in honor of the wonderful Moosewood restaurant, here's the ratatouille recipe we're having tonight:

3 Tb olive oil
4 med cloves garlic, minced
2 cups chopped onion
1 bay leaf
1 medium eggplant, peeled and cubed
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp basil
1 tsp marjoram or oregano
1/2 tsp rosemary
1/2 tsp thyme
2 medium zucchini, cubed
2 medium bell peppers (I usually use red), seeded and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 14-oz can diced tomatoes (with juice)
black pepper
fresh minced parsley (optional)
sliced olives (optional)
fresh parmesan cheese, grated (optional)

1. Heat olive oil in a deep pan. Add garlic, onion and bay leaf and saute over medium heat for about 5 minutes.

2. Add eggplant, salt and herbs and stir. Cover and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 15-20 minutes until eggplant is soft.

3. Add zucchini, bell peppers, black pepper, and tomatoes. Cover and simmer for about 10 more minutes, or until zucchini and bell peppers are tender.

Top with grated parmesan cheese and/or other goodies to serve.

Can serve alone (as stew), over pasta (my favorite), or even on crusty toasted french bread, as bruschetta.

Prep time: about 45 minutes
Serves 4-6.

It's vegetable-y, and healthy, and delicious. Enjoy!

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Play day

We are entering Week 3 of home-schooling (which around here we call Unschool), and we are adjusting to the schedule. Or lack of schedule. Or the ongoing effort to figure out what our schedule should be... WHATever. All is going quite well, and the happy bubbly smiling girl we know and love has returned to our family. The change has been quite dramatic and has confirmed for all of us that we made the right decision.

Still, I'm the sort who likes a bit of time alone from time to time -- and these days, combined with R's going away for a conference last weekend, had me feeling a bit crazed. So, yesterday R was home and I left the building for a Day Off.

Yee haw!

First, I went to get my hair trimmed and had to try hard not to drool as Molly the hairstylist massaged my head while hot water thrummed against my scalp. I'd like to start every day that way, thank you very much.

Second, I met with Mr. S., a teacher from Miss C's school who is going to continue to work with her as a tutor on math and science. Miss C is darned smart and I am too insecure as an unschool teacher to have all of her subjects in my hands! So Mr. S will be stepping in to work with C on those subjects and we are all delighted about it.

THEN, the hours stretched before me like an expanse of possibility.... It was raining and I was chilly, so I sat myself down in a corner of the couch at Starbucks with a large cup of hot coffee, and I read magazines. For hours! I had the newest issue of Where Women Create so I sat and read and gazed intently at the beautiful studios on display. Oh, the luxury!

It had dawned on me that I've not been into a movie theater for so long that I can't remember what I saw last. So, I strolled on over to the local theater in time to catch a late-afternoon show of "State of Play" with Russell Crowe, Ben Affleck, and Helen Mirren. A real movie! In a real theater! With real popcorn! I enjoyed the movie tremendously -- it was just the sort of plot-twisty, charactery, satisying story I'd been craving. While I had the niggling feeling that plot ends hadn't all been resolved satisfactorily, I was still so delighted with the experience that I have vowed to get into another theater with the next 5 years or so. Possibly even as soon as next friday.

AND THEN, if that wasn't exciting enough, I hopped into car and went to Borders which has the biggest magazine selection around. I wandered, perusing whatever struck my fancy, and sat down with a pile of photography books and odd magazines (Did you know there is a foreign magazine called "A Needle Pulling Thread" on all things stitchery?). There is nothing like wandering through a book store without any deadlines.

By the time I got home, I was feeling refreshed and happy and quite happy to see my family. I had quite the successful play day.

Oh -- I snapped that picture up there in Balboa Park, when we were in San Diego after Easter. Quintessential delight!

Friday, May 01, 2009


As long as we're talking about quilting (!) , here's another small quilt I made a few weeks ago. Our assignment in Practical Design was to make something with a horizontal composition and a monochromatic color scheme.

It just goes to show you what you can do on a random Sunday. I was feeling the pressure of the looming deadline, so I started doodling -- and the branch and birds appeared. I drew that on fabric, and just designed around it. Very simple, and although I tried adding various bits, I always took it back to this simple piece.

So it was fast, and fun, and freeing.

I tell you, I just need to play more ... which I suppose means keeping the worktable clear enough to play on...