• 12Sep

    It has been a very long and busy week! I have worked quite a bit, and when not working I was busy sandwiching in appointments. Sewing was also a big part of my week. My new machine is a dream to sew on, and so much nicer than my old one. I took a quilting class, and today I finished my very first machine-pieced quilt top! (Sorry…it is too dark now for pictures. I will post some soon.) I have not yet decided whether to quilt it by hand or wait for the machine quilting class. I already have fabric for a second quilt, and ideas for a third. Whew! I am going to be busy! I have another class tomorrow morning. This one teaches me all of the ins and outs of the new machine. I have figured out all of the basics, but I know there is still much to learn.

    My husband has been so nice and supportive of my sewing. He does not mind if I steal away in the evenings to work a bit on a project, and he has commented positively on my quilt-in-progress. He recently started a blog of his own, and this week he came home with a sly grin and told me I had to read his most recent post because it was about me. Actually, it was his side of our story. He usually makes me tell it when people ask, or we both tell pieces of it together, so I liked reading his perspective without any of my interjections. Being a man of not-so-many words much of the time, the length of his post surprised me. I was both pleased and amused by his use of literary quotes, especially the first one. It is a line from one of my favorite books:

    It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.
    -Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

    My husband knows me well. He knows of my love for literature and knew that quote would pique my interest. Literary quotes aside, it was my husband’s closing paragraphs that touched me the most and echo my sentiments exactly. He is my husband, my best friend, and my life-long mate.

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  • 31Aug

    Ah…vacation. Just the word vacation evokes pleasant thoughts of airplanes and autos conveying us to destinations that range from mountains to beaches, from cities to the country, sometimes even out of the country. This year, we had planned on taking a road trip to visit our neighbors to the north, do some fly fishing, see Niagara Falls…. But we changed our mind and decided instead to plan a relaxing trip closer to home. So several weeks ago we left civilization behind and spent a week in the woods.

    Our goal was to learn the ins and outs of fly fishing. I had previously purchased a fly rod for my husband, but life had gotten too hectic for him to have a chance to use it. This year, he bought me a rod of my own so that I could participate, rather than just being an observer and knitting on the sidelines.

    We planned a trip to Bennett Springs in Missouri and chose to stay in a quiet little cabin not far from the state park. We took casting lessons, which lasted 4 hours in 100 degree heat. It was a hot and sweaty afternoon, but fun and rewarding to (attempt to) master some basic casting skills. We were ready to hit the river the next morning, and were very excited about the trout we would catch! We just needed some more gear. We planned to rent waders, but they were not available in my size, so I became the owner of my very own set of hip waders. I am trying to start a new trend in boots for fall.

    {Waders: The latest trend in fashionable footwear}

    Benjamin, on the other hand, rented some full length waders. They even had a pocket inside the front for holding his pliers, box of flies, etc. I was envious of the pocket, but I just loaded up my fly box and pocket knife on an O-ring and clipped it to my belt loop. On our first day of fishing we went out in the later morning and again in the evening, but with no success.

    On the second day of fishing, we were up before dawn and out on the river when the starting horn blew. I enjoyed the sounds of the insects and the mist rising from the river. It was a calming contrast to our whole-body efforts to successfully cast the fly onto the water in a way that would appeal to the trout. We casted and casted, then casted some more. Benjamin was successful and caught the first fish. You can see him looking at it in the above picture and showing it off proudly below. (Animal Rights Activists: Do not worry, no trout were killed on our fishing trip.)

    {I think that standing in the water with waders on makes him look like an Oompa Loompa, rather than a 6-foot-tall man, lol. I know it is just an optical illusion.}

    I have to admit it: the trout triumphed on this trip. I did manage to get two different trout on my hook, but I got excited and tried to reel them in too fast. Both times they broke my line. By this time it was raining and we were both soaked and chilled. A warm shower and some dry clothes sounded wonderful.

    After donning fresh clothes and having lunch, we set out on another adventure. We decided to travel an hour to Springfield, MO and visit Fantastic Caverns. We are cave enthusiasts (our favorite being Mammoth Cave in Kentucky. I recommend the Introduction to Caving Tour to those who are interested, and the Wild Cave Tour to the adventurous.) We were underwhelmed and unimpressed by Fantastic Caverns. The tours are given via a tram pulled by a jeep. I cringed as I thought about what the exhaust fumes must be doing to the cave’s eco system. The tour guide mentioned that occasionally they will see a small bat, but usually they are scared away by the noise produced by the vehicles. Imagine that. The other thing that I disliked was that the cave was daylight-bright. The tour was definitely not worth the $21.50 price of an adult ticket.

    On the final day of our trip, while driving back home, we stopped at another cave on a whim. I think we partially wanted to find something to erase the memories of the over-commercialized and overpriced cave we had visited the previous day. Onondaga Cave State Park was pretty and clean. The cave tour was $10 for adults, which we found to be reasonable. The tour was informative and interesting. The cave was adequately lit for walking, but dim enough to maintain a sense of mystery. My favorite room was the Lily Pad Room with its lily pad-like stalagmite formations. These were formed by mineral rich water that dripped down from the stalactites above then hit the surface of the water, scattering the minerals to form shelf-like stalagmites that appear to float on the water’s surface. This was the first time I had seen this type of formation, so it was definitely a highlight.

    All in all, it was a very relaxing and restful vacation. Our cabin had a kitchen, so we were able to purchase groceries and spend quiet evenings listening to the insects and watching the sunlight dim over the treetops. We had no internet and no cell phone service and, while I felt rather isolated, I enjoyed the reprieve.

    Now summer is coming to a close, and I wish it had lasted just a bit longer. We do have plans to go on one or two fly fishing weekend trips this fall, which I am looking forward to.

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  • 19Jul

    Beware, instead, of the 19th of July. Last year on July 19th, a storm knocked out our power during a downpour on a hot summer day. The previous July 19th, a strong summer storm rendered us powerless for an entire week in 100+ degree heat. This year, rather than storms, floods, and power outages, we instead lost our water. Our entire town of more than 35,000 people lost water. According to the local news, the main pipe to the water tower burst around lunch time today. No word how long we will be without water. Aargh. It’s hot. We sweat glisten. I like showers.

    Update (Sunday morning): We now have water, just not much. It is brown. Ugh. Can one really get clean in a brown water shower? Eeeewwww. To shower, or not to shower, that is the question.

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  • 18Jul

    Hello and happy Friday! It has been a wild and crazy week here at Casa de Benjamin and Heather. In preparation for the arrival of our new furniture, I have been doing some very late spring cleaning…or maybe it is early fall cleaning. We needed to shift furniture around in other rooms so that the chairs from the living room could be relocated. We talked about donating our old couch, but I was so busy with work that I forgot to call and arrange for it. Last night the guys carried it out to the curb and I put a “free sofa” sign on it. (We figured if it did not disappear by noon, then I could call the charity.) This morning a woman came by asking about it. She knew someone who was struggling financially and could really use the couch. She asked me if I would hold it for until this afternoon when she could get a truck. I said sure, and she was so excited she hugged me. Poor woman; I was still in my pajamas because I was doing some last minute floor cleaning before I showered. Who knew so much dust could build up under furniture?

    So…our new furniture was finally delivered today and it is VERY RED. I love it! Here are a couple of early pictures. I still have to put the area rug back out and accessorize. And remove the tags (but I wanted to wait until my hubby got home and saw the furniture before doing this).

    Wow…I just realized how cluttered the top of the entertainment center looks. I guess it is time for some reorganizing up there. It is above my eye level, so I often miss things up there. It has become the perfect place for my husband to hide a remote control or DVD from me. Maybe if I can ever get the glass shelves for the sides of the cabinet, then I can move some of the clutter! Hmmm…always more projects. 😉

    This week also brought news that I actually won something. I can count on two fingers the number of times that I have won things. One of my sisters used to win things all the time. She was the one who also found money everywhere…on the street corner, in the pay phone…. Anyway, I won a yard of fabric from Sew, Mama, Sew in last week’s Free Fabric Friday giveaway. I chose one of Anna Maria Horner’s Garden Party prints – centerpiece in turquoise:

    If you love gorgeous fabrics, you must stop by Old Red Barn Co. and check out the Ginger Blossom quilt they are giving away! I think this would be the perfect quilt to compliment my new sofa. Gorgeous!

    I also want to apologize for the blog malfunction that occurred yesterday. My husband applied some bandaids, but my template was lost. He was able to restore most of my content. There will be changes coming in the future (hopefully) as I search for a new template. I am completely blog design ignorant, so I must rely on the design genius of others. I have yet to find a template I really like. (Except those on other people’s blogs, of course!) Oh…and the yarn pictured at the top? Another fabulous yarn from the lovely Yarn Chef. Her yarns are good enough to eat! The particular one shown is Creme Brulee (50% merino wool/50% tussah silk) in Polished Sapphires. It is destined to become a Lyra shawl.

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  • 01Jul

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    Today, my husband and I celebrate eight wonderful years of marriage! Wow…we look so young in that picture! I cannot say enough good things about Benjamin. He is a wonderful husband and a pillar of strength. He was very supportive through the pregnancy and bedrest (he even worked from home so that he could be helpful to me) and then through the loss of our child. He was with me at the doctor’s appointments, went to the store for any need I had, and did not mind that I loafed around in sweats and no makeup while dishes piled up in the sink. He works so hard to provide for us and even worked a second job for 3 1/2 years (until his contract expired last Saturday) while also going to school. He is handsome, affectionate, and my best friend.We both truly believe that our marriage is a very good one. We made a promise of “till death do us part” in the eyes of God and men, signed our names to that contract, and firmly believe in upholding it. Because we both agree that divorce is not an option, we are not looking for a way out of our marriage. We are stuck (in a good way) and there is no back door to escape through. Through all of life’s joys and challenges, we stand firmly together with the help of God. I think that since marriage is a permanent thing and we do not have a way out of it, then our life together becomes whatever we make of it. It can be good or it can be awful, but it is our choice which it will be. We can each be rude, selfish, and unforgiving, or we can overlook one another’s faults and readily forgive shortcomings. If my husband can overlook all of my faults and love me just the way I am, then surely I can do the same for him. Happy anniversary, Benjamin – I love you!

    For our anniversary this year, we are not exchanging gifts. Instead, we splurged on one big gift for both of us: new living room furniture! I am so excited about the new furniture. Our…ahem…vintage furniture was well past its prime. During our first few years of marriage we accumulated the mis-matched furniture that young newlyweds with little money are prone to accumulate: a denim couch that looked very worn very quickly (yeah, we forgot to think about what happens to a favorite pair of jeans), a third-hand recliner that smelled of cigarettes – even after Febreeze and a slipcover, and a parisian style bowl chair. When we bought our house, we were offered a set of matching furniture. Though it was not particularly my taste (maybe I could pass it off as granny-chic?), it was a neutral color and in fairly good condition, considering its age. So we have lived with it for several years, despite the worn spots, popping buttons, and lack of firmness in the seat cushion. The couch became damaged beyond repair several weeks ago when my husband accidentally sat on one of those flowing ink pens. The ink stain was bad: dark blue on a taupe couch. Benjamin diligently tried to remove the ink, and was successful in removing much of it, but the fabric did not hold up under the blotting and rubbing. We now have a stain and a rip in the middle of the seat cushion. Benjamin made the announcement that we were going to get new furniture a couple of weeks ago and the search began. Last night we made our final decision and the new set should be delivered in a couple of weeks! I must stay that our stimulus check was very helpful in making this purchase. (Thanks, Uncle Sam.) Below is a before pictures of the old furniture, taken a couple of years ago. (The chair in the foreground of the pictures has since been moved to the right, beside the entertainment center and next to the ledge, where the footstool is in the pictures.

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    I will share the after pics when the new furniture arrives!

    *~*~*

    I also want to say a big *thank you* to those of you who took the time to call, email, or leave a comment about the miscarriage. My husband and I appreciate all of the kind words and prayers.

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