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March 2009

February 2009

Why so glum?

This is a photo of Jack and Sybil from my small collection of family photos that I've swiped over the years. I've heard their names before, but I don't really know who they are.

jack and sybil

They don't look very happy do they? Still, I love this photo. I suppose I love all photos parents take of their kids.


Sometimes I like to forge ahead, even when I feel I'm not ready

Yesterday, while riding along with R on our way to the home inspection, I decided I'd try to knit a small bit of a tube on double pointed needles (DPNs). One of my (many, overly ambitious) knitting goals is to be able to knit socks, and DPNs allow you to knit a tube small enough to fit your leg. Or your hand/fingers for mittens and gloves, another goal of mine.

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I was really intimidated, but I went ahead with it and, well, it wasn't so bad! It's a little weird at first, with all those needles hanging around. And I'm still afraid to try an actual pattern. But it was a good experience.

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What I'm afraid of is making a mistake. What do you do? Start over? I think that's what I'd have to do. I've been really careful when making my hats, and I haven't made a mistake serious enough that I couldn't compensate for it in some way, so I haven't had to rip anything out. But if I did, I wouldn't know how to do it.

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So, any knitters out there know of a super easy sock pattern I can knit on US size 3 DPNs? I've looked on Ravelry (wanna be my Ravelry friend?), but haven't found anything yet. Also - I have giant feet - US size 10.5! How did that happen?!

What do you think of the double pointed needles? Fun? Confusing? Just takes a little practice????


At either end of the dirt road

Just down the road from where we are now, there's a small field. It's lovely and green and just a tad bit hilly. When the sky is blue and the clouds are fluffy, seeing this field makes me happy to be alive. I keep trying to take a good picture of it and I keep failing miserably.

I've passed this field countless times, seen these two houses behind it and at either end, and always wanted a closer look at each of them. Somehow, I never really noticed that there's a dirt road that runs behind it. The road has a sign naming it, so I felt free to drive through.

At one end, there's this house.

at one end

I have the feeling that the people who live here might be the only ones who ever use the road. When I was driving along, I passed a man in a truck. I gave a little wave, as people often do out here in the country, but he didn't even look at me.

At the other end is this house.

at the other

I wish I were brave enough to get out and have a look-see. But I'm not - especially not with V in the back seat. So I kept moving...


...but most of the time, it does.

063a

When the whole upheaval of our lives began back in November, I broke up what had to happen next into four phases just so I could get my head around it.

The first phase was picking up everything in Tennessee and moving to Georgia. That didn't take very long, about a week or so.

The second phase was R looking for a job and then landing one. That didn't really take very long either, about two months.

The third phase would be looking for a place to live closer to R's job. I thought this would take the longest amount of time - I was optimistically hoping to be out of the bungalow by May. But it seems we are on a major upswing here and we started looking for a place to live about three weeks ago.

Now I'm not one to mess about with things like this and so, if all goes according to plan, the fourth phase, which is moving one last time and getting on with our lives, will begin at the end of March. We are finally, finally buying a house. Moving in. Settling down. Excited about getting boring.

Though you know I covet those gorgeous old houses I can't stop myself from photographing, we're getting a nice cookie cutter in the suburbs. And we couldn't be happier about it. The kitchen is white. The yard is fenced. The tub is garden. It was built in 1999.

We're almost there, and I've been taken off hold. I can once again start dreaming of big plans for the future. It feels good.


If you'd like to visit the South

If you'd like to come down and visit me in the South, you don't need to hop on an airplane. You might not even need to leave your house. All you need to do is to make these cookies:

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Now don't be distracted by the chocolate chips you see in the cookies - those are not important at the moment. It's the cookie that's important. The warm, lofty cookie.

These are tea cakes. Here in the American South, tea cake recipes are traditionally passed down in the family. Now my grandmother could make tea cakes with the best of them, but I didn't get the family recipe box. My mom got it and she has misplaced it.

That's not as dreadful as it sounds because there weren't all that many recipes in my grandmother's recipe box. For all I know, her tea cake recipe isn't even in it - most of her recipes were in her head. But it does make it difficult for me to make her tea cakes.

Fortunately, there are many, many tea cake recipes out there and almost all of them lead to exceptional tea cakes. Some are super simple and some are a lot more fancy. I like to make a basic tea cake recipe because it's just so very easy - you don't even need to get out the mixer.

Here's the recipe I've been using. I adapted it from my friend Kim's recipe and suggestions. Kim's from Alabama - so you know she knows tea cakes.

Tea Cakes

1.5 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 cup vegetable shortening
1/3 cup butter
2 tsp. vanilla
3 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

Melt the shortening and butter together and let it cool a bit.

Stir the eggs and sugar with a spoon until mixed. Slowly add the melted shortening/butter mixture and stir well. Add the vanilla and stir again.

Put the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl and mix it lightly, then add the wet ingredients and stir until mixed - careful not to stir too much.

Spray your pan with cooking spray or use parchment paper or however you like to do it. Drop the batter onto your pan by rounded tablespoons. Bake at 350º for 10 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned.

Makes 30 cookies.

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The South in a cookie, yes ma'am.

These little bites of heaven puff up slightly from all that baking powder. They are light and airy and delicious. You can also add whatever personal touches you'd like. Today I added those chocolate chips and some cinnamon. Kim substitutes a little whole wheat flour for the white flour. You can also add nutmeg or raisins or whatever you can think of - they're still tea cakes and always welcome at my house!

If y'all make a batch, be sure to let me know! I'd love to hear what you think of them.

***
If that's not enough Southern cooking for you, try the buttermilk pie!


©1974

Love this building, always have.

c1974 002

In the late-1970s my father lived in the house that used to be to the right of it. There was no heat in the house. My dad used to roll my brother and me up burrito-style and lay us in the bed to sleep. I'd wake up shivering to the tip of my frozen nose at 3am, and he'd still be up reading the book he'd bought when we walked to The Hobbit Habbit earlier that day.

He baked fish for dinner on a cookie sheet lined with tin foil. He doesn't remember this; he says he doesn't like fish, but I distinctly remember the bones.

I remember him proudly showing me the sourdough pancake batter that was slowly, slowly rising in the fridge for Sunday morning. We ate them with honey. He says he doesn't remember doing this either.

His American flag backpack, the serious kind with a metal frame, hung on the back porch, always ready to go. Because sometimes you had to be on the road in the 70s. It was that kind of decade.

c1974 001

Sometime in the late-80s or early-90s they tore down the house and the beautiful church to the left of this building (the church steeple remains, but it eluded my lens). They built an apartment complex in the area behind it. You can view the above photo large, if you like.

***

Click if you'd like to read more stories about my childhood.


An awesome day & book & giveaway

Don't hate me, but it's 65 degrees here today. So we went outside to play.

Check out that sunshine and the lovely breeze...

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We took out V's beanbag, some pencils/crayons and paper, and An Awesome Book to read.

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I plan on doing a lot more of this, at least until it gets really hot - it's much more fun than drawing and reading inside.

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I was a lucky ducky and got Dallas Clayton to send me his book, An Awesome Book.

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I especially like the drawings - very detailed. V says they're silly and lots of fun.

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The message of the book is to be sure to dream. Without dreams, life would be megaboring.

So true.

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V likes to dream about playing with lots of kittens and puppies. I like to dream that I can fly.

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And because he's a nice guy, Dallas has offered me two signed books to give away. Wanna win one? You've got up to four chances, but I ain't your momma, so you're responsible for following the rules:

For one point: leave a comment, telling me what you like to dream about.
For one point: twitter a link to this post and then come back and leave me a comment with a link to your twitter post.
For two points: write a post on your own blog, mentioning the contest and linking to this post and then come back and leave me two comments. Yes, two comments - this will make it so much easier for me.

Contest deadline is Wednesday, February 18, at midnight and I'll announce the winner on Thursday, February 19.

Good luck!

***

I entered this post at Julia's Hooked on Fridays party. Come on and join us!


The two hurricanes I've lived through were quite enough, but I will take this hat, please

So I'm making this hat, called the Hurricane Hat (Ravelry link), with a couple of my own modifications and I think it might be the best hat in the world, or at least knit in the prettiest yarn in the world.

v the latest hat in malabrigo

This yarn? Yes, this yarn is why I knit. It's absolutely gorgeous, so soft and pretty. This hat is, of course, for V. This will be her third hat to my zero, but I'm kind of hoping there will be enough of this yummy yarn left to knit my own hat.


All blue, but for one green

So, even though I thought it was going to be painful, I took a drive around my hometown - to the historic district, mainly.

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It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.

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Everyone was at work and it was raining, so I pretty much had the street to myself.

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I used to live in this neighborhood and go for walks just to look at these houses.

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A lot of these houses used to be a bit run down and students lived there. But now it looks as though families have bought them - I kept seeing strollers on the front porches or toys in the yard. That was nice to see. If I owned one of these houses, I would treat it like a jewel.

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When I looked at the photos I took, I noticed that a lot of the houses are blue. I dig the blues.

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Ok, so there's this one green house, but it's too cute not to share. I love the green with the terra cotta pots. Would love to see it in the spring.

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This one is for rent. Don't think I'm not tempted. It's just that it's about an hour and a half from R's job. And it's in this stinkin' town.

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I can't hold that against it, though - just look at that front porch!


Tink

For about a week or so, I feel as though I have no words. I've tried. I have all sorts of things I want to say and even a few drafts (I never have drafts, I always finish writing posts), but they're just not coming out in any way that I find appealing. So, pictures from the other day when it was raining.

This is where the infamous burn barrel used to be. It was a metal barrel that had shots fired through it to circulate air. It rusted and eventually fell in on itself. Finally we got rid of it. Don't blame me - it wasn't my idea. Lots of people have them out here. I just like this picture for the swirly pattern.

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Her umbrella says "Tink" and has Tinkerbell on it. V thinks "Tink" is a funny word.

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She also thinks it's funny to say, "It's not TinkerBEM, it's TinkerBELL!"

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See, V asked me how to spell "bell" and I asked her what letter makes the last sound in the word and she said "m," as she does sometimes when she knows the answer but says something else because, well, 3-years-old, that's why. So I said, "M? M?! It's not TinkerBEM, it's TinkerBELL!"

And hilarity ensued.

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So, yes, she's in love with her Tinkerbem umbrella, if you couldn't guess...

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Apropos of pretty much nothing:

There are a lot of cedar trees here. They remind me of my grandparents' house - they had one in the backyard. I used to swing from one of its branches by my hands when I was a kid. As an adult, I went out back to see the tree one day and it had grown too high for me to reach the branch.

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Please bear with me while I search for my muse among the low-hanging cedar trees.


Just for R

Now that I've completed it, I realize that there are not too many people I would knit a 6-foot long scarf for.

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There's only one person that I can think of, really.

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And while I'll be sad that he's in Winnipeg for the week, training for his new job, I'll be happy that he has this scarf to keep him warm.

v the scarf is finished 003

Well, warmish. He will be in Winnipeg, after all.

Anyway, I think he's gonna like the scarf.


The prettiest house

This is the prettiest house I've seen in a while.

v Washington 149

There are trees in front of it and I couldn't get a good picture. But that didn't stop me from almost running off the road trying.

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Lucky for me, there is a church right next door and the side of the house is almost as pretty as the front. This next picture is my favorite part.

v Washington 152

This house is in Washington, GA. Every person I've ever known who has come from Washington, GA, has nothing but good things to say about it. If you love old houses like I do, it is a most dazzling place.


If you're needing inspiration, Philomath is where I go

I was looking at the map the other day when I realized that I needed to go to Philomath. Kind of like when I went to Bonny Kate - I see it on the map, the name gets ahold of me, and I have to see what's there. Also kind of like Bonny Kate, the only thing I really found was a beautiful, old church.

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But I think I just don't know where to look because, according to Wikipedia, there should be at least one other historical building around.

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There are some beautiful houses and I took pictures of them too, but the church was great because I could get out and walk around it and take as many pictures as I liked without being intrusive.

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I don't like being intrusive; I try to avoid it whenever possible. I like to think I'm being inconspicuous when I indulge in my obsession with taking pictures of old houses, but that's probably just wishful thinking. The ones in Philomath have trees in front of them anyway, which makes for bad photos.

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Can't blame people for wanting privacy. So I ended up driving on and on, until I eventually got to Washington, GA, but more on that another day.

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This used to be a Presbyterian church and is from around 1840 - at least I think so. The marker wasn't completely clear about it.

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Either way, it's in perfect condition, simple and beautiful.

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It's now Phillips Mill Baptist Church - and right down the road from this place.