June 2010 Archives

Whatcha Readin'? Wednesday

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Sorry for the absence, things are a bit scattered around here. I'm starting a new program with my niece and nephew, and we're getting used to the schedule. And THEY are getting used to having someone other than their mama be their teacher, at least for a class or two. New adventure for me. I've really missed homeschooling since Zack finished, and now, at least for awhile, I have two new students. I'm happy--though how happy they'll be is a matter still to be determined.

I have finished several books lately, though looking at my reading log shows me how much less I'm reading lately that is usual for me. Let's see, the finished list includes:

Superfreakonomics by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner: I liked this book, but then I like economics. If I were ever going to go back to school and major in something completely impractical, it would be economics. The Zman loved econ as well, so this book generated some interesting discussion. The parts about medical costs were interesting in particular.

So Brave, Young and Handsome by Leif Enger. This is my book club book for later in the year, I read early so I could pass it on. It is definitely a book that I want back, though, because it's going on my shelves as a keeper. It's a western, sort of. It's a romance, sort of. It's a "finding out about yourself story", sort of. It's a story of redemption and the odd paths that redemption can take. It is definitely recommended. And it's been a long time since I stopped and marveled over someone's prose. Enger writes sparely, perfectly.

Why Shoot a Butler by Georgette Heyer. In addition to romances, Heyer wrote a number of murder mysteries. This is one we picked for book club. Again, I'm finishing early, so I can give it to some friends to read. Want it back. Not as good as the Regency romances, in my opinion, but still good. How on earth did she write SO MANY books????

Then a couple of summer "vacation reads":

Love, Lies and Liquor by M. C. Beaton. A murder mystery in the Agatha Raisin series. I love both series that Beaton writes--the Hamish Macbeth ones and the Agatha Raisin ones, but maybe Agatha holds a little dearer place in my heart. I think it's the insecurity that she has at the center of her being that makes me like her. Nothing groundbreaking here, but then that's not why I read them, is it?

Miracle at Speedy Motors by Alexander McCall Smith. #9 in the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series. Again, the story really has little to do with detecting, and everything to do with the characters. We just want another peep into life in Botswana and to hear Precious Ramotswe think. Loved it. Again.

Currently reading and will probably finish tonight:

In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan. Very interesting, especially the part about "nutritionism" and the debacle of people deciding what you should eat on a micronutrient level. Eat low fat/high carb! No wait, we're getting fat! Eat high protein/low carb! Wait, that's not right either. Don't eat eggs! Wait, they don't really raise cholesterol. Eat eggs! Sigh. He has what seems to me a plan that, while not necessarily easy in our Western society, at least doesn't appear crazy: Eat food (not processed junk). Not a lot (speaks for itself). Mostly plants (hard for MamaT). Good discussion with PapaC on these matters, and necessary one since his health issues seem directly affected by his diet.

In the On Deck Circle:

The Lemon Tree: An Arab, A Jew, and the Heart of the Middle East by Sandy Tolan. My July book group selection. Should be interesting, but why did I put it in JULY? Isn't July supposed to be about fluff since our brains are melting around here?

Anyway, what's on your list?

Happy Wednesday, ya'll!

the coolmoest smockpumps ever


nine west's bonfire shoe in corkthecoolmoecorkshoe.jpg.

these are the coolest, least practical, shoes i've seen in a looong time, even if they are a little too "repurpose-y" for my taste... the only way to make them even more summa and sexy would be to find them in hot pink. regardless of color, and in celebration of my crunchy friends, i'd buy these in a heartbeat, iffin' i had the funds, and i'd find a way to wear them. every. single. day.

This is the thing that I want to make for MEEEEEEEEE. It's called Inga's Haekelbeutel. Fab, isn't it?


It is 16 squares put together is a unique way to make this awesome bag. This link has the square pattern as well, but really you could use any fairly solid square that you liked, as long as it was basically the same size.

I have many balls of scrap yarn, calling out to be made into the awesomeness that is this bag. In fact, I think it is going onto my list of project gift projects for my book club for NEXT year. (This year's gifts are already started. Yeah, I'm THAT kind of girl. At least some of the time I'm that kind of girl. We can hope.)

Of course, if someone wanted to make me one, well, let's just say I'd be happy with that!

Pretty Pattern(s) Tuesday

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I've got a three-fer today of selfish patterns! All things I'm making or plotting for me. Memememe.

The first is a shawl I've got on the sticks, and am loving knitting.


It's a great pattern. Quick and addicting. I'm knitting it in a purple/gray/brown variegated merino sock yarn that is tops. You can get the pattern right here.

Next is this dreamy cardi that I can't wait to start:

Check out the clever secret pockets:


It's knit in a merino/silk/cashmere yarn that I'll never be able to afford. I adore the color, though. Pattern available aqui.

Finally! The Mamy Bag:


Too adorable. Olive it so very much. And a free pattern to boot. I just need a French brush-up...

Fine Art Friday


We took the kids to a short little doc on Van Gogh at the Imax this afternoon, it was pretty well done and it reminded me of his Reaper, which I love so and used to frequently stare at.


Happy weekend, y'all!

Thursday, Beautiful Thursday

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In the rush of cleaning house (usually right before someone is coming over--a great reason to invite guests in my book!) I sometimes forget to look at the things I have collected over the years. I forget that they are more than dust catchers and something to be attacked with a Swiffer. I forget that they hold memories.

I need to stop that. I need to stop and look at some of my things, and think about why I have them and whether or not I still love them and want to keep them.

With that in mind, I took a look at my white display cabinet, and stood and stared at the things I had put in it. And I liked them very much. All of them were still very beautiful to me.

Here's one little grouping:


This is an incomplete set of grass green dessert dishes that I inherited from my friend Fran. I also inherited a wooden plate, something that someone probably bought at one of those "look, here come the tourists, let's put out a bunch of tacky souveneirs and I bet they'll buy 'em" shops. It has a kind of Pennsylvania Dutch theme, and under the picture of the Dutch woman, it says: "A plump wife and a full barn never did any man harm."

She thought it fit me. And it does. And I love it.

Fran was an interesting character. She was raised rich. As in top Dallas school rich. As in debutante back in the day rich. Married a successful businessman, thought that life was going to be her world forever. Never learned to take care of herself. Never, ever learned to manage money.

But one year, it all came crashing down. First her oldest daughter died in a freak accident at home. Then her husband was diagnosed with lung cancer and died in only a few months. Fran was devastated, of course, but she said that Cursillo saved her life.

She found someone to trust with her husband's business. It should have taken care of her for the rest of her life.

The guy was a cheat and a thief. She was left with zero. Nada. Zilch.

When I met her, she was living with her daughter and son in law, but that wasn't going well. The parish took over caring for her. Got her into rent-assisted housing run by Catholic Charities. I wrote out her bill payments. Shay and I took her to doctors, Craig and Zack brought her to church and to church functions.

She had next to nothing left. A few bits and bobs. And she could be infuriatingly messy. And infuriatingly sure that someone was going to take care of her. And she was right about that.

She had COPD, just like my mom, and was on oxygen 24/7. She never let that stop her. If she could get a ride, she was going to whatever was on. And she knew we would fix her plate and get her some more iced tea. Oh, and stop by Jack in the Box to get TWO orders of fudge cake every Sunday.

Fran was a lot of work. But she was so worth it. I learned more from Fran, looking back, than I ever realized. She had amazing stories to tell about old Fort Worth. It was a glimpse into another world.

Only one time--ONE TIME--did I ever hear her say anything about being disappointed with how her life turned out. And that was mild. Just an innocent comment, "I never expected it to be like this" thrown away in a moment. And never mentioned again.

And I only saw Fran cry one time--and that was when my sisterfriend was diagnosed with MS. She bawled then. But never for herself, never for her circumstances, not even at the end of her life.

What did I learn from Fran? That you can roll with the punches. That life can still be good, even if it isn't what you expected. That friends can be infuriating and still be beloved friends. That everybody doesn't have to be the same to be worthy of love and attention.

Fran was diagnosed with lung cancer shortly after her 80th birthday. It was found on a routine pulmonary xray. Asymptomatic. Tiny.

The doctor really thought that she would let it go--live her remaining life as she had been, and enjoy what was left.

Nope. She wanted to be treated. So treat they did. And maybe that was a mistake on her part. The treatment, even "watered down" as they did it for this skinny 80 year old lady, was too much. Finally her lungs wore down. Standing in an ICU, with a (thankfully) Catholic pulmonologist, I made the decision NOT to put her on ventilator. Her two priest friends came and gave her absolution and viaticum.

And shortly after that, it was over.

I will never not miss Fran, in all her weirdness and glory. I still, all this time later, want to turn to pick her up when I pass her street on the way to church.

That's why I know there is a heaven. Because otherwise it doesn't make sense to keep on missing someone. If it were right that this is "all there is", seems to me we'd be built with an acceptance factor. People are gone, and we'd just go on.

But Fran was, is and will always be part of my life. And these green glasses remind me of that. Chipped and incomplete, they are still BEAUTIFUL.

Happy Thursday, ya'll!

Thursday, Beautiful Thursday



Craft Circle! So many beautiful projects and lovely people and cookies. If you're local, come join us next month. Craftiness is optional.

MamaT's Monday Daybook



For Today, June 14, 2010

Outside my window... I'm looking at grass that I need to mow. But I've got to get some laundry and errand running done this morning/afternoon so PapaC can leave on Wednesday for a trip up to see his dad. That being said, it will be atleast tomorrow before I can mow because I WILL NOT mow when it is 98 degrees outside, which it will be by this afternoon.

I am thinking... that my granny square afghan is looking pretty awesome, if I do say so myself. I'll let you see it once I take a photo.

I am thankful for... my appliances. Think how easy my life is in comparison with women who came before me. Refrigerators and freezers make my grocery shopping and food storage easy. Washers and dryers speak for themselves. And the little luxuries like dishwashers. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

From the kitchen... grilled chicken and veggies for supper tonight, probably. Tomorrow we'll have tuna salad, I think. Something cool and easy. After that it'll be just me and the grandgirl, so I'm sure menu planning will revolve around chicken nuggets. And cheese.

I'm am wearing... Khaki capris, purple t, amethyst earrings, sandals and perfume.

I am creating... a baby afghan for some friends at church. They are having their third boy. It is really cute--done in easy strips of pale green, aqua, yellow and orange. Think kind of circus-tenty.

I am going... out a lot this week! Craft Circle. Parish Council. Book Club. I like all the activities in themselves, but I hate it when they are all bunched together like that.

I am reading... Miracle at Speedy Motors by Alexander McCall Smith. Book #8 in the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series. Love it. Comfort reading at its best.

I am hoping... to get my very looooooooonnnnnnngggggg to-do list done this week, so that I can paint a little this weekend. Walls that is. In the bedroom. If I could get the two un-furnitured walls done, then PapaC could help me do the others. But maybe I can talk the Zman and his bride into helping me move the furniture. If I could get it done before PapaC comes home----Wouldn't that be a GREAT surprise!?

I am hearing... my air conditioner run. And run. And run. Summertime in Texas.

Around the house... Clean all bathrooms. (Didn't do it last week.) They are shamefully grubby. Mop entryway and kitchen floors. Yuck. I don't like mopping.

One of my favorite things... is Sunday night. We usually have supper late-ish, then watch videos. It's a nice, quiet time. We just finished season 1 of Mad Men, which I think is extremely well done, but hard to warm up to because there is no really good or heroic character. Everyone is either nuts or pretty despicable. But the guy who plays the lead? Yum.

A few plans for the rest of the week: Financial statements for parish. financial data for Diocese. Tape off trim in bedroom. Lug McKid back and forth from Dance Camp.

Words I'm pondering "Nothing great is ever achieved without much enduring." ---------St. Catherine of Siena

Here is a picture thought I am sharing...


Eat your vegetables, girls!

Music for your Monday


Can I just tell you how much I ADORE Peggy Lee? Here she is doing a smoking version of "You Was Right". Wow!

And then, just because one Peggy Lee isn't enough, here's another clip. Peggy with Benny Goodman, doing "Why Don't You Do Right". Sigh.

The sheer genius of this is mind-boggling. Maybe we'll do some more Benny Goodman later in the week.

Happy Monday, ya'll!

Monday Music

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This is a clip from an old movie called Serenade. I think it is so lovely. And who hasn't wanted to burst out the Ave Maria in an acoustic filled chapel with a private organ accompaniment.

Oh, Mario.

smock's southernisms of the day


in honor of the fact that i only have the boys at home all day today, i have a couple of expressions that come in handy when dealing with unruly lil'uns.

"behave or i'll snatch you bal'headed." yankees might use the term bald headed.

"stop that cryin' or i'll give you somethin' to cry about!"

"don't make me jerk a knot'n your tail."

***in the interest of full disclosure, baby greer rose is home of course, but she doesn't act up . . . until three in the morning.

Words worth thinking about

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Via Gretchen Rubin at The Happiness Project, here is a daily decalogue from Pope John XXIII. I think that I will print them out for my collage board:

1. Only for today, I will seek to live the livelong day positively without wishing to solve the problems of my life all at once.

2. Only for today, I will take the greatest care of my appearance: I will dress modestly; I will not raise my voice; I will be courteous in my behavior; I will not criticize anyone; I will not claim to improve or to discipline anyone except myself.

3. Only for today, I will be happy in the certainty that I was created to be happy, not only in the other world but also in this one.

4. Only for today, I will adapt to circumstances, without requiring all circumstances to be adapted to my own wishes.

5. Only for today, I will devote 10 minutes of my time to some good reading, remembering that just as food is necessary to the life of the body, so good reading is necessary to the life of the soul.

6. Only for today, I will do one good deed and not tell anyone about it.

7. Only for today, I will do at least one thing I do not like doing; and if my feelings are hurt, I will make sure that no one notices.

8. Only for today, I will make a plan for myself: I may not follow it to the letter, but I will make it. And I will be on guard against two evils: hastiness and indecision.

9. Only for today, I will firmly believe, despite appearances, that the good Providence of God cares for me as no one else who exists in this world.

10. Only for today, I will have no fears. In particular, I will not be afraid to enjoy what is beautiful and to believe in goodness. Indeed, for 12 hours I can certainly do what might cause me consternation were I to believe I had to do it all my life.

Don't you like those? Isn't the focus on "only for today" exactly what most of us NEED. There are things that are overwhelming to me at the moment, but if I could discipline myself to look at only one day at a time, I would be able to walk forward, instead of standing around being overwhelmed.

What are you going to do "only for today"?

Pretty Pattern Tuesday

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I'm always on the hunt for super easy sewing patterns; something about the machine freaks me out a little and my skills are sadly limited.

This little video is a tutorial for a baby, toddler or preschooler dress from a pillowcase. So easy. And so repurposey. I stocked up on ribbon and brickbrack and my girl is set with house-dresses and swimsuit cover ups for the year.

Here she is in a pillowcase that I shrunk several years ago:



Pretty Pattern Tuesday


Just have to show you what I have in process. I already showed you what I did for Zoe--the pretty daisy afghan. Well, I wanted to do something for Jack, her big brother, as well. But masculine/teenage boy throw patterns are pretty hard to come by.

But my Crochet Along for this year picked a square for June that just hit all the right notes for me. I'm using the brights that I had left over from Zoe's 'ghan, but instead of using black, I'm using sweatshirt grey.

The pattern is called Alter Ego, and it can be made in a variety of sizes. Here's where you can find the pattern. And here are my first 3 squares for Jack's throw. Ends still need to be woven in, but AREN'T THEY AWESOME? Love 'em. And appropriate for teenaged boy.


For Jack's Blanket

Want to take up a reading challenge? Don't know where to start? Well, journey on over to the blog A Novel Challenge, where they have listings of all kinds of reading challenges you can be part of!

I'm thinking maybe there ought to be a Summa Challenge. Wouldn't that be COOL?

OK, maybe not for YOU, but it would be for ME!

Some More Monday Music


If Mason Jennings has written a bad song, I haven't heard it.

.....and we're thinking about sun and sunshine, here's a little art to brighten your Monday morning:


Castle and Sun
Paul Klee

Happy Monday, ya'll!

Quote for today:


Anyone's life truly lived consists of work, sunshine, exercise, soap, plenty of fresh air, and a happy contented spirit.

-----------------Lillie Langtry

Music for your Monday

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Here is an oldie-goldie, Petula Clark singing "My Love". I love the peppy little tune. I love pondering how warm our love would have to be around here to be "warmer than the warmest sunshine". But most of all I like seeing how she dressed to sing her song on TV. FAB.

Dare to you get this out of your head after you listen to it!

...of all types (well, except for lists of the work I've gotta get done). But point me in the direction of "The Ten Best....whatevers" and I'm there.

So, that in mind, here are a few lists YOU might want to check out.

Over at Aggie Catholics, they are working on a list of Top 50 "Catholic-Themed" Movies. Not necessarily about Catholics, but with a Catholic sensibility. Their list can be found HERE.

Anthony Esolen, over on the Touchstone Magazine blog "Mere Comments", goes a little further and proposes his list of Top 50 Christian movies. You can find his list HERE.

Then, not to leave the small screen out, Mr. Esolen comes up with a list of the Top Eleven Christian Television Shows. I think you might be surprised by some of the picks. Reading his reasons are interesting, and I find myself concurring with all but one.

Anyway, there's lots of fodder for the Netflix queue on those lists!

Thursday, Beautiful Thursday

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My craft armoire

Riffing on LaMa's entry below, i decided to include a picture of part of my craft space. This is a pine armoire, which has been repurposed from one kind of storage to fit into my craft room. Actually, I think I'm going to start calling it my studioffice--a term I saw on a beautiful blog the other day. While I had every intention of keeping my office stuff away in another part of the house, it just keeps migrating back into here. If that's the way it's gonna be, then it's better to just deal with it and move on! I'm still working on storage solutions for all that stuff.

I LOVE this armoire. When I'm working in the office, I leave the doors open, because it has my stereo in it. But when company is coming, I can shut the door and it looks so much neater.

Like LaMa, I have vases full of crochet hooks and knitting needles, a pencil box painted by my mom that holds stitch markers, tapestry needles, small scissors, etc. Then baskets that hold THINGS. Finished objects are on the bottom shelf--well, at least the ones that aren't in my closet! There is one of my favorite pictures of Zman, taken when he was still a little Zkid. You can't tell, but he has on a Daniel Boone coonskin cap and he and his buddy have play guns and are pretending to be mountain men of some type.

There is also a beautiful picture of McKid's first communion. Lovely. I change out these pictures every once in awhile, and put something different there.

Sitting on top is a plate that I painted with pink roses and floated lacework. The artist bear that my dad got my mom and a balloon that says "It's a Boy!" that was in a flower arrangement I got when Zman was born. Yes, this little mylar balloon thingy is still as full as it was in the beginning, 24 years ago!

So, there's part of my space. Maybe beautiful only to me. But beautiful nonetheless.

Happy Thursday, ya'll!

This spring, at last, I have my own little craft table. My desk and it's drawers are piled with things-to-do and vases of knitting needles, crochet hooks, drawing supplies. My bedroom shelf is piled with fabric and button jars. My living room has baskets of works-in-progress throughout it. My family is very patient with me, bless their lil hearts, as Smock would say. But still I was over-taking the kitchen table and coffee table when I need to spread stuff out. So! This spring we secured each family member their own desk, down to the toddler. I loved seeing them organize and set up their spaces so differently. Plus! This meant that the table in our homeschool room is free for the spreading out of stuff, ahem, my stuff.

So my beautiful Thursday entry is this little space of my own, across from five desks in graduating sizes, where I can spread out when I want, and walk away without cleaning if I want. Ahh!


Makes me so happy. Those suitcases I found at a garage sale for a dollar each last weekend, they excited me so very. And MamaT! Does my bead bin look familiar?

Happy Thursday, all!

Look, I love living in Texas. I have never lived anywhere where it wasn't HOT in the summer. There isn't anywhere that I consider living that it isn't HOT in the summer. So a girl's got to learn to deal with it.

Most Texas girls deal with it by never putting a non-sandal-shoe on their feet from May through September. Except for when I'm working out and HAVE to wear my sneaks, I wear sandals of some sort 100% of the time from here through September.

And flips are the sandals of choice. Lots of days I wear my FitFlops, with their nice support (plus they are pretty much waterproof, etc.). But I wear other flips when I'm not just hanging out.

Here are 3 pair that I would LOVE to own. They are all made by O'Neill, and all are available on Zappos, of course.

Who can live without a metallic sandal? Not me. I have silver and bronze in my closet now, but maybe I need to add this gold one? It's called the Foxy 2010, and I say, yes, sir, it is!


I love the swoopiness of the thong on this one, Plus, I had to pick it, just becuase of its name. This one is the Mama Cita:


And finally, the one I am dying to own. Love, love, love this look. So different. So cool. Great name, the Maui Wowie:


Go slip your toes into some super sandals.

Happy Tuesday, ya'll!

Pretty Shoe (F.F!) Tuesday


The high is 97 today, the kids and I will be spending the day at the pool. It's so delightfully empty before school lets out, it must be cherished. On my feet will be $2 Old Navy flips, but I did a little less-reasonable rubber ff shopping this morning in honor of Tuesday.

I think these are so different and becoming:




And a Summa pink, por supuesto:


All are by Sanuk and found at Backcountry.

Happy Tuesday! Stay cool!



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