Sunday, April 17, 2016

Lately










We've had three gray days in a row and I'm quite enjoying it. There's a slow-moving storm over the southwest and south-central parts of the US, which has given us days of interesting weather. We've had rain, snow, sleet, thunder, lightning, wind and fog. It's like a whole year's worth of weather in one storm. It has also been unseasonably cool, which I'm enjoying too. Before long, it will be hot and undoubtedly very dry again, like it was all through February and March. We still have that long dry stretch of late spring and early summer to get through before the monsoon gets fired up in July. I love the monsoon, as I've said many times before. To me, it's a reward after hot, dry, kinda boring May and June. This current storm feels like a mini monsoon - hunkering, stay-at-home weather.

Aside from the storm, the week was mostly uneventful. Work, school, homeschool, running around for activities. I've been dealing with an outbreak of eczema on my hands. The swelling has been so bad I can't wear my rings. It's uncomfortable and embarrassing. I bought an eczema cream and have been using it with gloves, which seems to be helping. It's amazing how much something like this can bother you, though. I feel like all I thought about was my hands over the past few days; even in my sleep, I was scratching them bloody. TMI? This is real-life blogging, baby.

When my hands were feeling up to it, I sorted embroidery flosses for my next cross-stitch project (I'm taking a few liberties with the color chart to use up some flosses I already have. The design is a whimsical pirate ship; if you can't play a bit fast and loose with a design like that, then I don't know what). I did some crocheting too. I hadn't crocheted at all since finishing Hensfoot in mid-March. I really missed crocheting. I was starting to get a little twitchy without it, actually. It made me realize how very important crochet has become in my life over the past several years, as a hobby and pastime, yes, but also as a way to relieve stress and to focus energy.

I'm going back to basics now, working on a couple of different granny-square patterns. One of them is Squaring the Big Circle, from the blog Signed with an Owl. I've shared a couple of them on Instagram (do you follow me there? I'm thistlebear, if you're interested); they're big, about 8 inches across, and I'm thinking about making a pillow or a bag with some. I had considered using them for my next blanket, a big one for our bed, but I think I want something a little more intricate, more mosaic-like for that. I'm in the mood for a long-term project - at the moment, anyway.

To that end, I've also been making a pattern called Paeonia, from Filcolana, a Danish yarn company. I found the pattern on Ravelry and was instantly drawn to it. It's a little like the Ice Cream Flowers blanket I made for the GB in 2014, but the flower is different and the square around it is more solid. Instead of white, I will use gray. You know me, all about the gray. My other colors are mostly fairly soft - lots of greeny-blues and pinky-reds, with mustard, tomato and pistachio for a bit of acidity. In honor of the wild-weather weekend on which I started making these squares, I'm thinking about calling this blanket Stormflowers.

Yesterday, the Bear and I did our usual Saturday ships-in-the-night thing where we each take a child to the university for music lessons, one in the morning and one after lunch, and we each do errands and household tasks in between. We barely see each other until about four in the afternoon. He said he'd be doing some cooking. By the time I walked in, he'd made barbecue sauce and prepared ribs for the smoker (he's cooking them today for our dinner), as well as red chile sauce and Dutch oven breads! (He uses this recipe from Mother Earth News). He had even, ahem, washed the kitchen floor. What a homecoming.

I made a delicious recipe during the week, Blueberry Cheesecake Bars from Betty Crocker. It's the April recipe on my Betty Crocker calendar. There's a recipe for each month, along with tear-out versions of each recipe to keep when you're done with the calendar. I usually make about half the recipes in any given year. For this one, I couldn't find blueberry spreadable fruit so I used blackberry and substituted mixed frozen berries for blueberries, not a bad thing at all. I probably won't make them again very soon; the ingredients were expensive and they were difficult to serve. Very tasty, though, and simple to make. The cheesecake layer was my favorite part.

I'm trying to come up with costume ideas for the LB. His class is performing an end-of-year musical play about the 13 American colonies. He has two parts to play, a British soldier (aka "Redcoat"), and Leif Erikson, the Viking explorer. I'm at a loss. I'm thinking about trying to get a red jacket, even a cardigan, from the thrift store and having him wear a belt with it. I think the teacher has tri-cornered hats (I know she has Viking-style hats). For Leif, I'm thinking about making a poncho kind of thing from brown cloth, belted, to look like the tunic he wore. There may also be a cloak? I'm not sure. I actually used to sew theatrical costumes as a job when I was younger, but I worked for a real, live costume designer. I wasn't coming up with the designs myself, just sewing them on demand. Do you have any suggestions? I'd love to hear them. For reference, he's ten years old, about four-ten and eighty pounds.

Have a good week, my friends. I'm off to check on the laundry and think about what to have for lunch, then I'm going to sit down and play with yarn for a little while. I'm in that exciting stage where it all seems possible and I can't imagine being all set with a never-ending blanket project. Long may it last.

36 comments:

  1. Oh no, Jennifer! My daughter has that problem and she said if she grinds up a Benadryl and adds it to cream, it calms down. You don't get the tired feeling from when you take it orally. Pretty grannies and YUMMY dessert!

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  2. Oh, I do sympathize about the eczema. I used to suffer terribly from it on my hands. It's calmed down a lot in recent years but I have to wear rubber gloves for doing the dishes and can't use soap with any perfume/colour - just boring old Pure soap for me, sadly. Love your granny squares and your weather sounds very cosy at the moment. Ours has been funny too - snow yesterday and glorious sunshine today. You've definitely got a keeper in your Bear. xx

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  3. Oh the playing with yarn stage at the beginning is wonderful isn't it. Especially if there's a storm raging outside. I love dark thundery skies, and your last photo is gorgeous. I like the look of that pudding. Anything with blueberries is very popular around here. Sorry to hear about your eczema. I've had periods of it as well in the past so I know how unbearable the itching can be. Very frustrating to have it on your hands as well when they are of such importance, particularly to a crafter. I hope the cream helps and that it heals very soon. Your Bear sounds like a very wonderful man, how lovely to come home to food prepared and a clean floor. It's the stuff of dreams! I'm wishing you luck with the costumes. Simple is definitely the way to go, particularly when you need two. A belted poncho sounds great, and a good Viking hat and maybe a sword will finish it beautifully. CJ xx

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  4. I hope your hands heal quickly, Jennifer. Maybe you should wear the gloves to bed? Bear's bread looks fab! :o)

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  5. I hope your eczema gets better soon. My husband has occasional flare ups too so I sympathise. I would keep the costumes simple, especially with two to make and change into. A short wooden dagger could possibly be made by the LB out of scrap wood and twine? I like the look of your stormy grey flower blanket very much indeed.

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  6. Hope your hands are doing better, Jennifer! I've been plagued with very dry and itchy elbows lately and so I can relate to all that scratching!

    Your storm sounds very dramatic; I miss the ones we get on the island.

    Poppy

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  7. So sorry about your hands my friend. I was at a craft show a few weeks back and found this lovely woman from Georgia selling pure shea butter, I bought some for my husband for his eczema, he hates creams so I adopted it and I love it. Here is her link, http://www.florasheabutter.com , I loved it so much I ordered more from her website. I hope it helps. Hugs to you, Meredith

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  8. So sorry about your hands, I hope they heal quickly. Have a wonderful start to your week Jennifer.

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  9. I enjoyed your photos.. don't you love how they are like a frozen moment in time? I have a similar shot from a bit ago of an iris just on the cusp of opening. Can't wait! ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

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  10. Love your shades of grey pics, with a bright daffodil for contrast, very nice. Ah, costumes, I think a thrift shop red cardi or jacket is the way to go, and the viking situation you have well covered. All part of the fun of raising children, which I remember fondly. We still have a few old bits of costume, now given to grandson for playing. Your man is a gem - a washed floor? Wow, never happened to me...

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  11. Gosh do hope your hands a much better as you read this ♥♥ I know aloe vera can help both internally as a drink and on your hands too and I have used argan oil myself, actually use it for everything even my hair too lol beautiful pictures jennifer and as for costume yes thrift shop great idea....takes me back to when my 4 were young xoxo

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  12. Oh I hope your hands are better soon. My siblings all suffer horribly with psoriasis. Our grandmother had it all over her body. I'm the lucky one who just has to deal with dry skin, especially in the winter time, the others have it all over and have tried a myriad of treatments with varied success.

    Your Hubby sounds like a keeper. A man who washes the kitchen floor AND cooks? A keeper most definitely. :-)

    Your new projects sound wonderful, both cross stitch and crochet. There is something very exciting about a new project isn't there? I hope you have a wonderful week Jennifer.
    Blessings,
    Betsy

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  13. My daughter suffers the same she finds aloe vera helps, hope this outbreak is short lived. Striking photos.

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  14. I hope your excema is better by the time you read this comment. I can't even begin to imagine how unpleasant it must be. Hands are so so important! I looked at the Peonnia pattern, how lovely. I enjoy planning a new blanket almost more than actually making it. It is the playing around with patterns and yarns that I find so wonderful. Have a lovely week. x

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  15. I hope you can get on top of the eczema soon, I know how painful it can be as I suffer on and off with it and Eleanor has had it too. It must be so painful to have on your hands when you need to use them, make sure you wear gloves when using water as that will just dry them out more. I remember those days when the children had so many things going on that Mick and I were like ships that passed in the night, one taking one off to one activity whilst the other went somewhere else with the other one, it doesn't last forever though and the pleasure they get out of these activities is worth it.

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  16. Your Bear's a keeper!! Josh had awful eczema as a baby and the only thing that worked, and completely cleared it up was manuka honey cream. Just active manuka honey its own would be great too if you used it at night!

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  17. Your Bear's a keeper!! Josh had awful eczema as a baby and the only thing that worked, and completely cleared it up was manuka honey cream. Just active manuka honey its own would be great too if you used it at night!

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  18. I enjoyed all your photos in this post Jennifer. I am so sorry about the flare up on your hands and hope they are much better now....something like this is so debilitating. Your dessert looks delicious. Wishing you a happy new week.
    Helen xox

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  19. Have you tried a little dandelion oil for your hands? My Emerson suffers the same illness and the oil helps.
    I have been picking up my embroidery needle every day for the last three months, just stitching simple stitches on a piece of linen,I really like it.
    I hope your Monday and your week are filled with happiness Jennifer. :)

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  20. Sorry to hear about your poor hands - hope the eczema clears up pronto. I have no suggestions re costumes, I'm afraid, as I was particularly useless at that sort of thing. We had one black cloak (from a halloween kit!) that mine all wore with varying t-shirts underneath. Totally uninspired. And, one more thing – he washed the kitchen floor???!!! You're onto a winner there :-) x

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  21. I've have to be sick as a dog and laid up in bed before my husband wouldn't think to cook or clean a thing. Sorry to hear about your eczema. I've dealt with cracking and bleeding during the winter months here but thankfully it hasn't happened in a few years. I think our winters just haven't gotten that cold for it to be a problem. Have you tried any home remedies? We had a dust storm last week and now it has just gotten hot. My college boy drove with a friend to Denver on Friday for a free outdoor concert on Saturday that was cancelled because of the winter storm. Have fun with all your crafty projects. Best wishes, Tammy

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  22. Sorry to hear about your hands Jennifer I used to suffer terribly when the kids were small but haven't had a flare up in ages. I love your photo's, I love dark cloudy days especially with a good downpour which is just as well as we get that a lot haha pity is wasn't a bit warmer though. I very rarely go on instagram I never seem to have the time, I love that circle in a square and had pinned it to try sometime. Thank you for the link to the Blueberry cheesecake it looks delicious. Have a great week. :) xx

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  23. I am so sorry to hear about your hands that sounds really painful. I hope they are a little better now? I do love your crocheting, as I always do.

    If I was making a simple cloak I would get a strip of material turn over one edge to make a casing, thread elastic through and sew the elastic to itself to make a loop but you probably knew that already. When I made Viking costumes I made these :).

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  24. Oh I'm sorry to hear that you are suffering from eczema how frustrating for you. I don't suffer from it myself but I do suffer from rosacea so understand the swelling & itchiness. I hope you can find suitable costume ideas for you son, no advice to offer but I'm sure you will find a way. xx

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  25. Hey Jennifer,
    Seriously, your husband? Where can I find me one of those?! I loathe those school dress up days. I like a homespun costume, so I think your ideas are fine. By coincidence, the year two classes (the year above Olly) had a Victorian day today, and had to come in dressed as a child from those times. They looked fab. The teachers were great too, and seemed to be playing their part very well. One of them looked very severe in her cloak and bonnet and was ringing here bell, and ordering the children about beautifully!
    Leanne xx

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  26. oh you and your food.. and a bear that can cook. perfect!
    sorry to here about the eczema.. M suffers from something similar. He spends almost all winter month with lotion and gloves at night.. his finger tips begin to crack open.. Hope you get some relief soon.

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  27. Hope your hands are feeling much better, Jennifer, and I so admire your wonderful Bear! Your stormy weather photo captures the excitement. The new squares you are crocheting are handsome. Your ideas for the costumes are just right, I think. Emphasize appropriate colors and hats and you should be set [a long sleeve red t-shirt as a base for a red coat look could work] Wishing you a happy week :) xx

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  28. Hope your hands are feeling more comfortable now. I sometimes get contact dermatitis if I don't wear rubber gloves when washing up, and that drives me craaaazy, so I can only imagine how painful and irritating excema must be. The plans for your new blanket sound very creative, and I like the sound of your colours. Take care X

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  29. Your photos are so beautiful! I love hearing about your weather - it's so different than the Midwest. I'm so sorry to hear about the eczema on your hands. Usually, eczema is related to something you're eating (and that's not agreeing with your body), but since the eczema is on your hands, it sounds like more of a contact dermatitis. I know it's hard to figure out what you could be coming in contact with that is making it flare up. Do you use chemical cleaners? Also, if you're interested, pure lanolin (you can buy it at health food stores) is wonderful for eczema. Totally cleared up my husband's eczema a couple of years ago when he broke out on his torso. It's sticky, so you'll have to wear gloves, but maybe you can wear them at night when you're sleeping. I wish you all the best!

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  30. Beautiful photography, you have a good eye. I love going back to basics every now and them with my craft. I too have been playing with some granny squares. sorry to hear about your eczema, hope it clears up soon for you x

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  31. Sounds like you're good and busy -- whew! -- I can't keep up! For your costume -- don't forget ruffles hanging from the neck -- sort of like a little dickie but with ruffles that will appear at the throat when wearing the little red coat - hope that makes sense. I had to do a similar little costume once and the ruffles were quick and made a big impact -- I think I just made it on a flat piece of fabric and hung it from the buttons on the collar of a shirt. (And thanks for the reminder that you're on IG!)

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  32. I really hope your hands get better soon, that sounds painful. I think your husband enjoys cooking and pottering around in the kitchen as much as mine. :-) Long may it continue. I'm glad you're settling on a new crochet project. I've made a few small things lately but I want something mindless and relaxing, maybe a blanket. I look forward to seeing what you make. X

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  33. Your photographs seem to be infused with a gentle peace, they are lovely Jennifer. I hope you find healing for your hands soon. Best wishes xx

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  34. I hope your hands get better soon, that must be so painful and irritating for you. I like the Paeonia blanket, especially with the grey edging, I do like grey very much. xx

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  35. ouch your poor hands. xxx school costume days are a nightmare, I wish the schools realised how stressful they are for the parents. (and the children sometimes, I hated them as a child...........)

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  36. Any all consuming health issue is annoying and hands are the most important part of any busy mother. Hope they are better soon. I like those granny squares. I am floundering on the yarn front started a few things but nothing quite seemed to be working and parenting is a challenge at the moment so I could do without crochet challenges too! Jo x

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