Home Making

Did anybody else think today was Friday?

After months of unemployment, the five-day work week seems interminably long.  (There were perks, see?  If only it paid better.)

Things are moving along here at home.  The only boxes left are in the garage and I'm half tempted to donate them somewhere...unopened and unpacked.  What could be in them, I wonder.  Clearly nothing vital.  I'm trying to hang the last of the pictures...a sure sign we're staying for a while, even though I keep expecting someone to show up and ask us what were doing in their house.  I still wake up and wonder where I am. 

Every morning David kisses me goodbye and goes to secure our place on the rock.  (Lindbergh's oyster bed has been heavily on my mind this week.)  I sense his giddiness as he leaves.  He is happy to be providing.  Deliriously so. 

My job is more complicated.  Because the light in my new bedroom is golden rather than blue.  The sun is coming in at a different angle, and I don't yet recognize the patterns it makes as it rises and crosses the south wall.  To calm my fears, I rise and do what I know best.  Home making.  And perhaps my brilliant skills were never more needed.  To take the uncertain and make it familiar.  To take the unknown and make it recognizable.  To take the difficult and make it a little easier with the simple rituals of daily life...food on the table, the same stone dishes being revealed by each successive bite, the smell of heat and starch as I line David's dress shirts along the end of my ironing board, the sheets and blankets whispering their old secrets as my darlings climb in bed, the circle we form on our knees at the end of day. 

To take a house and make it home.  (Good thing I'm amazing and stuff.)

In an effort to make it feel more like home, this week I did get the quilts hung.

The walls are telling me this is where I belong.

I wonder when I will believe them. 

A Post In Which I Bless Your Life Again

I am making steady, wondrous progress on my "before-school's-out" list. 

The swim cupboard is accessible (no small feat) and pleasing to the eye.  The school file boxes have been readied.  The ironing has been completely caught up.  (A gasp and three cheers are in order here, should you feel so inclined.)  I have made summer pillows and bought the fabric to recover the cushions in the girls' room.  I've made cookies twice, for no reason at all except pleasure.

On Saturday afternoon I bought a round table on Craigslist (oh joyful day!) and I have begun sanding my kitchen chairs so that I can stain them to match.  (I'll take before and after pictures and save them for another post, because, as you know, there is nothing I like quite so much as bragging.)

In short, I am a domestic goddess.

And so that you might be too, (I find most people want to be like me...that's what happens when you're amazing) here are a few things to help you on your way:

1.  This Book

My lovely and talented Aunt Jill wrote this book and it is gorgeous and drool-worthy for several reasons:

  1. There are lots of pictures of me in it (reason enough right there to buy it).  There are also lots of pictures of lots of people who are related to me and who happen to look EXACTLY like me as well, so if you like pictures of me (and who doesn't?) this is the book for you.
  2. It is FULL of beautiful quilt patterns (really beautiful quilt patterns) that you can do with a group (if you have lots of domestic goddess friends to hang out with) or by yourself (if you are into making everybody else jealous of how amazing you are).
  3. So many other cute projects like pincushions and notebook covers made from selvages.  Just yum!
  4. Speaking of yum, it also has some favorite recipes. 
  5. I wrote the foreword.  And some people have told me that it made them cry.  And I think even if it doesn't make you cry, it will make you want to call all the women in your life and tell them that you love them.  And even if it doesn't do either, it may be the one and only time I am ever legitimately published and so get it while it's hot.

2.  Bamboo Sheets

A long while back I heard Martha Stewart say that she only sleeps on bamboo sheets and I thought, "Egyptian Cotton is out?  When did that happen?"  A few weeks ago I put the summer sheets on the bed only to find that they were worn out and threadbare and needed to be replaced.  I went to Tuesday Morning (where I always go to buy sheets, because I love quality sheets, but I refuse to pay for them.  See how that works?)  Anyway, they had a set of bamboo sheets and my inner Martha was delighted.

It's been a couple of weeks now, and I've got to say, for the record, that there is a reason she is Martha Stewart.  And she was absolutely correct about the bamboo sheets.  They are so soft they are almost more like leather than fabric.  Even though that sounds a little weird.  (Probably especially to Kelly.  You'll have to trust me.)  I told David these are the sheets that Adam and Eve slept on to populate the world.  They are that good.  And cooler than cotton too, which is a delightful characteristic in your summer sheet set.

3.  I am recovering my kitchen chair cushions after I re-stain the wood and so I have been looking through upholstery fabric swatches.  Talk about joy!  (There are times when I am completely my mother's daughter...this is one of those times.  She used to carry swatches around in her purse for months.  I am just now discovering that she did this just for the fun of it.)  Anyway, I found these lovely designs from Thomas Paul.  (The two owl prints at the bottom are Alexander Henry.)  You have my permission to drool, and then find something to recover.  I think I will do the piano bench while I am at it.  Perhaps Aviary in Tangerine.  Be still my heart.

For Money

It has been five days since the Garden of Hope Spring Tea (my big fundraising event of the year) and I am out of excuses.  It is time to post.

I cleaned my house.  Long neglected.

I paid the bills.  Long overdue.

I went to the store and the library.  Long out of anything to eat or read.  (There is a running debate around here about which is worse.)

Today I intend to go to my final class and iron David's shirts.  The man has been ironing his own since February.  And after that I have a list of things I've been meaning to get to: wash the girls' bedding, organize the swim cupboard, prepare the file boxes for the end-of-the-year school treasures, breathe, sleep, nap, smile.  All good things and all about time.

Last night I had a dream that David no longer loved me.  Too hard to live with, plus the house was a mess, he said.  I woke up and had to be reassured several times before he left for work this morning.

When I think back over the last three months, I want to dance (it's over!) and cry (it was hard!).  David has been calmly coaxing me through the ensuing maelstrom of ups and downs.  You can imagine.

Anyway, did you know I was a philanthropist?  (Honestly, there is almost no end to my amazingness.)

Well, I am.

I made this quilt and raised a whole lot of money for the cancer program at David's hospital.  (He should be so lucky, I tell my horrid dream.)

And even better, I looked gorgeous doing it.  (Hello.)

David and I have a standing joke that since he didn't marry me for my money he must have married me for my looks.  This post is evidence that it seems I'm good for both. 

Tomorrow, a real post. 

P.S.  A generous and heartfelt thank you to all of you who sent cards and help and good wishes my way during the madness.  They meant more than I can say. 

Show and Tell

Our reading assignment for class this week was all about the difference between "showing" and "telling."  I think I get it.

First I have something to show you.

The last three Fridays I've gone to Christine's house to quilt.  We've been working on this.

I know.  I'm in love with it too.

And now I have something to tell you.  Particularly if you live in Utah Valley.

Rachel and I are taking the show on the road again.

We are teaching our fireside on body image,

More Precious Than Rubies: Truths About Body Image in a World Full of Lies

this Sunday, January 31st, at the Grove Creek Stake Center in Pleasant Grove, Utah

1176 North 730 East (in Pleasant Grove) at 6:30 p.m. 

and you are cordially invited.

I hope you come and I hope that it will bless your life.  Better than that, we will finally get to meet.

Which, I'm telling you, will be delightful.

Oh, To Be As Brilliant As She!

First some news, some anxieties, and then I'll do my best to bless your life.

First news.

Last week I was asked by a real-life editor to write a foreword for a new, soon-to-be-published book.  I know.  You can bet I did a little jig of happiness.

Which leads us, already, to the anxieties part.

I worked on it this morning.  I think parts of it were just shy of brilliant, or at least good.  Not sure about the rest of it though.  I emailed it off to him today with my heart in my throat and my ego on my sleeve.  Gulp.  We'll see.

After the first draft I left the house to get away from it a bit before I edited it.  I have to get a little space before I can start killing and maiming my babies, see?  I went to the college to get my student ID and my parking pass.  The student ID they gave me has my maiden name on it, as the computer refused to believe that I had gotten married.  I told David this morning in the shower that I needed to get a ring between now and next Tuesday just in case some other boy wants to ask me out.  He just smiled.  ("What?" I said, "I was very popular in college."  At which, his smile broadened.)

Anyway, while I was there I went to the bookstore for my required books (can I tell you what a little thrill that was?) and saw that one of the requireds is a book I already own, a book already sitting on my writing table, on top of the stack even!, a book I've already read and tried to learn from.  And I had the brief and horrible thought that what I might need is not more information (i.e. this class I've registered for) but more talent (i.e. no professor can help you there).  And the dream nearly died right there on the bookstore linoleum.

But then RIM raised her voice over CIM's freaking out and I pulled myself together.  That is, until I got home and murdered my forward, gave birth to a new version, and sent it through cyberspace to be critiqued and analyzed by a real-life editor.

Good night, what am I thinking?

There's no help for it.  Best move on to the part where I bless you life.

Last week I went to to lunch with my brother who was in town just briefly, and my sister who lives here all the time but whom I never see enough.  We had a delicious conversation over sandwiches and fries and water with lemon.  Near the end, my brother mentioned a masterful talk he had heard at church that had blessed his life.  I looked it up and now it has blessed mine as well.

So here it is.  It is by Sister Julie B. Beck--the B. stands for Brilliant by the way, and that is always how I refer to her in our house, Sister Julie Brilliant Beck.  I think you'll agree.

And, you're welcome. 


(P.S.  I know some of you might be sorely tempted to leave an encouraging comment about my "brilliant" writing, but honestly I can't bear it today.  I am restricting all comments to agreements about the gorgeous and wise, Julie Brilliant Beck, and to those of you who think it is entirely plausible that I could indeed get asked out my some cute boy in my class next week.)

The Secret Delights of the Week

First of all, may I just point out that this makes five posts in five days.  You already know that of course, as I'm sure this was one of the secret delights of your week.

But before the weekend comes, a few more of mine, for the record.

1.  This book.

I am completely in love with Flavia de Luce.  I could eat her for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Better than pie, I say, and I find myself wildly grinning through Mr. Bradley's every paragraph.  

2.  This game.

Caleb got this game for Christmas and by New Year's we owned the expansion.  We have played hours of it since then, including a stolen hour last night between dinner and Roundtable meeting that David had to rush off to. 

3.  This conversation.

This morning as I was in the shower and David was putting the finishing touches on his tie, we were reviewing my posts from the week.

David remembered the one from Wednesday morning and got a little red under the collar remembering the last couple of paragraphs.

He rolled his eyes at me and said, "I wonder what people think."

I said, "They think you love me.  They think that's crazy, but they definitely think you love me."

"But can't they know that without being inappropriate?"

"Probably not," I assured him.

His eyes did another roll but I just smiled at him and he got distracted because I was just coming out of the shower, remember?

4.  This text.

Hey love hope u r having a good day

This afternoon, quite out of the blue, David sent me a text.  Unheard of.  Especially in the middle of the day with the hospital always absorbing all of his daylight-hour attention.

Of course I texted back.

wow...how nice to be thought of in the middle of the day...cant wait for date night

And then I waited.  For something witty perhaps?  For something steamy perhaps?  But he didn't text back.

I was hoping for something like:

me too


where do you want to go

or even

i think of you in the middle of the day every day

But the exchange was over.  Still.  I'll take what I can get and count it as one of the delights of the week.  I am so easy to please.  (That was funny, right?)

5.  The rest of today.

I spent the day at Christine's (my sister-in-law) house quilting.  Or actually, mostly talking and planning and fabric shopping and plotting ways to get my sister, Rachel, to quit her job so she can join quilt day too, but we call it quilting.  We had plans to work on some unfinished projects but mostly got excited about starting a couple of new projects instead.  It was easily among the best hours of my week.

Next week already looks less delightful as I have jury duty bright and early on Monday morning.  I am sincerely hoping I don't consume all of Flavia between now and then as I would love to have her with me through jury selection. 

But the week after that school starts.  And I, for one, can't wait.  This week I went and peeked through the window of my classroom and my inappropriate heart did a fluttery bounce and started pounding madly away, undone by the sight of desks and chairs and whiteboards.

Heaven help me if I ever find myself in a classroom with David.  I will surely spontaneously combust with all that lust.   

Five Posts in One

I've done all my recent writing in my head.  Which is fun for me, and not as much fun for you.  Anyway, the posts are starting to stack up.  In their entireties they were both clever and profound (you would have liked them), but for the sake of time and in consideration of all the people around here clamoring for clean underwear (the nerve!), you are getting the Reader's Digest version.  (Did I ever tell you the story of how I was actually published in the Reader's Digest and lied about my name?  True story.)

And so, Post One:

On Thursday night I took the girls to see Little House on the Prairie, The Musical at Gammage.  It was just marvelous, and it is quite possible that I cried through half of it.  At one point Olivia looked at me with tears in her own eyes and nodded compassionately.

I sat there in the auditorium with my own Mary and Laura and thought about love and sisters and sacrifice and hard work and faith and building a life for your family and long winters and what we would do to keep warm if we lived in the Dakota territory before insulation and central heating and indoor plumbing.  I thought about what it means to live in a happy family and over and over again I told myself, "This is now, this is now," just like Laura did in Little House in the Big Woods.

When it was all over we went to the talk-back where Olivia raised her hand and asked the cast if they had all read the books, and then with my girls clutching their own treasured books we waited outside the stage door for autographs.  

And on the way home, over the Christmas music, I could hear the girls talking about their favorite parts, and how it is so sad to read such good books when you are young because you might never find as good books the rest of your life.  I smiled at that and secretly agreed.  And as I drove home through the dark streets and listened to their voices in the back seat and heard Savannah ask Olivia why she was crying at that one part, I was grateful that they each have a sister.  And that in the long, cold winters of their lives, they will always have each other.


Post Two:

 The makings of 23 centerpieces.

If you've been reading this blog for a bit, it becomes fairly obvious, fairly quickly, that I married better than I deserve.

What can I say?  It is an indisputable fact that I have excellent taste in men.

This week offered more evidence of this. 

David and I were supposed to put on the ward Christmas party on Saturday night.  Food and seating and entertainment and Christmas cheer for two hundred.  Saturday was also the day of a one-day quilt retreat with my family in Park City, Utah, about 700 miles from here.  I hemmed and hawed about going.  I tried to change the date of the ward party.  I decided not to go to the quilt retreat.  Then I hemmed and hawed some more.  Finally David said, "Let's just buy you a ticket.  I can feed two hundred people by myself."  Unbelievably I said, "Okay."

And that it just what he did.  The party was a roaring success.  Last night in bed he told me in complete honesty that he thinks it was the best ward Christmas party he's ever been to.

I am not a bit surprised.

After all, I have excellent taste in men. 


Post Three:

We finally had a cold snap.

Cold enough to wear beanies and knit gloves with our jackets in the mornings.

Did you know it only takes about one day for children to lose one or both of their gloves?

Lucky for us, the cold snaps around here only last about two weeks.  I don't know how all you real-winter folks do it.  My entire month's budget would be spent on gloves.  30 days, 4 pairs of gloves per day...it adds up.

The other day I was at Target for a completely different reason and saw that they had their gloves on sale, 2 pairs for $1.50 in all kinds of cute colors.  I thought, "Sold."  I bought everyone two pairs of gloves.  This morning the girls were both down to one pair and Ethan couldn't find any.  He finally ended up wearing mine.  I suspect I will never see them again.  Oh well.  It will likely be summer weather again by the end of the week.


Post Four:

Remember that post about wanting to be snowed in somewhere?

On Sunday morning after a delightful quilt retreat, we were in Park City preparing to leave.  The man who plows the driveways in the neighborhood came by and laughed at us and told us we weren't going anywhere.  It had snowed 25 inches in less than 12 hours.

We went back inside and considered staying another day and I called David and told him I thought we might be snowed in and he said the roads looked fine from here.  If we could just get down off the mountain he thought the highway would be passable.  It was, but just barely.

As we were white-knuckle crawling our way down the mountain I thought about how when my romantic notions actually come to pass in real life, they are not nearly as romantic as I thought they would be.

My readers in Wisconsin and Michigan and Massachusetts have my apologies.


Post Five:

My Christmas cards are still sitting neatly in their boxes. 

I have threatened several times that they are going to end up in the recycling bin. 

David just nods.

He's been through this before.

And now every time someone else's Christmas card arrives in the mail, a little trickle of ice-cold panic sluices through me.

But still they sit.

I am waiting for inspiration. 

I am waiting for Christmas spirit.

I am waiting to figure out just what it is I learned this year.

The writer in me is still sorting.  Sorting the lessons from the regrets, the gold from the sand, the moving from the mundane.  There is something there, the water just hasn't cleared enough for me to see it yet.

I hope it clears by Christmas.  If not, I have given myself permission to fill the recycling bin.

And David will just nod.  (See Post Two.  I told you.)

Monday Morning, Mid-November

I've got Olivia home today working on her Reuben Land impression again.  (Will this allusion ever get old?  Not for me, apparently.)

She's making good progress on the likeness, and had me so convinced last night that I was almost scared enough to head to the hospital.

Dr. James, brilliant man, said that she can stay with me until she can move a kleenex across the room with her breath.  So far she can't even get it to twitch, which should give us enough time to make good progress on the holiday movie collection.  He gave us a grocery cart full of prescriptions and now she and I are running the nebulizer like clockwork.

The weekend came and went with the usual mix of play and worship and a surprising lack of the usual chores.  On Saturday afternoon Caleb had a violin recital in which he made both Bach and his grandparents proud.  On Sunday we attended sacrament meeting in my parents' ward as my dad was made bishop.  Afterwards we joined my brothers and sister and their families at the homestead for lunch.  A delightful preview to next week when we will gather again to break bread together and the rest of my siblings will join us.  I can't wait. 

I have been madly trying to finish my applique section on our round robin project in order to pass it on to my lovely and talented (and patient) sister-in-law.  I'm only ten days late, and by my count I only have twenty hours left to finish.  It is just about the cutest thing I have ever seen and can hardly stand not to publish a picture of it for your enjoyment, but there are no reveals until next April, so you'll just have to take my word for it.  (Make a note of my incredible willpower.)  It has been a good reminder that there is almost nothing I like better than handwork.

Well, I am off to administer meds, rotate the laundry another spot, and change the sheets.  And maybe find a sunny corner for a short nap.  It was a long night, interrupted by wheezy little gasps at the foot of my bed. 

Sights for Sore Eyes

Last week I wrote many posts in my head.

They were lovely.

And funny too.

But I got busy and so they stayed in my head.

Which is a shame.

Because did I mention they were funny?

Instead of posting, I made a quilt that was auctioned to raise money for ovarian cancer.  (Actually, my mom had to help me piece the top of it together as I ran out of time in the end.  I am thinking that at some point in my life, I should get it together enough to not have to be rescued by my mother.  I am also thinking that she is thinking the same thing.)

I put up jars of tomatoes and spaghetti sauce and raspberry jam for the winter (if it ever comes), with more to do today.

I've eaten about a hundred of these

and laid in bed dreaming about the tomatoes that made them irresistible.  One night I told David I couldn't sleep because I kept thinking about getting up and eating another one.  They were that good.

[Peaches later this week.  Can you stand the anticipation?  I'm already drooling.] 

David and I put on a ward activity, which included a variety show that put me in front of the computer for hours and hours editing video submissions and compiling them all into a movie.  My family made a music video to kick it off.  I have included it below for your viewing.

You're welcome.

And every night I was sure to ask David how it felt to be married to someone so capable and amazing.

And every night he said it was so wonderful he couldn't put it into words.

I said, "Try."

Because I love positive feedback.

Almost as much as I love tomatoes from Utah.

And now, our version of the Black Eyed Peas: