Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Second Grade

J is in the middle of his first day of second grade today. I walked him into school to have a quick word with his teacher this morning. It's been fun to see kids from his kindergarten class and see how much they've changed since then. J is anxious about second grade and whether or not he'll be able to keep up. He struggles with reading and writing, yet he's a math & science whiz. But those problems undermine his confidence in himself and that is what breaks my heart. He was a little disappointed to find out that there is no gym class on Tuesdays anymore. I think he was hoping to start the school year off in his favorite subject.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Do You Hear That?

It's the sound of complete & utter silence--except for the cicadas doing whatever it is they are doing. J is in Boston with Grammy & Grampy today and currently is on a Boston Duck Tour boat. I am really looking forward to school next Tuesday. But more so, I'm looking forward to the peace that will envelope my home for six hours a day.

I've got my list of things that I want to do once school starts. Some here, some outside the house. It will be nice to come and go as I want. Go check out the new age store when the spirits prod me.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

It's No Mystery

It really is no mystery to me as to why I am such a mystery novel junkie. This is the book that started it all. There used to be a book store in Westboro called The Book Corner. It was not unusual to go there on a weekend with Mum & Dad. It was a small bookstore and back in the day, you could let a small child wander the store without fear of predators. Naturally I always went to the kids section first. In June 1977, Dad mentioned that these Nancy Drew books had been around when he was a kid and that he thought that some of his sisters had read some of them. I was intrigued. So on that fateful day a little over thirty years ago, my parents bought me my first mystery novel. I loved those books. I devoured the book, figuring out from the clues what the mystery was all about. It took me a few years, but I went through the whole series.

As I got older, I continued to read some mystery books, but mostly fiction. Then the school years dictated what kinds of books I read for reports.

During the last couple of years I found myself wanting to read something that I could use my brain on. The mystery section called to me in the local Borders. First I found a series by Monica Ferris set in a needlework shop called Crewel World. It is a fabulous series with a wonderful cast of characters. Now I'm to the point that when something bad happens to a beloved character I'm shouting to the book, "Oh no Betsy!" or "Poor Goddy." Since discovering that series, I also found a few other series, the tea shop series by Laura Childs, as well as her scrapbooking series, and the Mrs. Malory mysteries set in a small English village by Hazel Holt.

This past spring I found myself at a terrible crossroads. I had read all my beloved characters stories. Often I look on Amazon to see if one of my favorites has something on the horizon, but back in the spring after reading Laura Childs' Dragonwell Dead, nothing new would be coming out until the autumn. Sigh.

This meant either not reading or finding some new authors. Not reading was not an option for me. My cousin had given me a few Diane Mott Davidson books when her library had thinned out their collection. So I started with the first one, Catering to Nobody and really liked it. I would visit Borders and start at the beginning of the mystery section pulling books off the shelf and reading the first few pages. Either they would grab my attention or they wouldn't. This summer I've discovered some wonderful new (to me) authors Madolyn Alt, Kate Kingsbury, India Ink, Ann Purser and
M.C. Beaton (Agatha Raisin series, not Hamish MacBeth--he doesn't do it for me).

Now I start haunting not only Borders, but the local used bookstores for the titles in the series. The Annie's Book Stop in Marlboro has one of the best mystery sections around. One day I hit a treasure trove of 3 Aggie's, 4 of the Kate Kingsbury books in both the Pennyfoot Hotel as well as the Manor House series, and an Ann Purser.

It's no mystery to me why these books make me happy.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Rest In Peace Merv

Merv Griffin
July 6, 1925 - August 12, 2007

When I was a little girl, the first house we lived in was a Cape-style house. What was supposed to be a dining room was my playroom until I was old enough to have a playroom in the finished basement. The living room, like the dining room, was in the front of the house to the left of the stairway, the dining room to the right. Mum would have the television on throughout the day, but for the most part, I wasn't allowed to watch anything but the occasional cartoon. But when the theme music for The Merv Griffin Show would begin, I would shout, "Merv! Merv!" This was Mum's cue to turn the television towards the dining/playroom so that I could sit and watch this wonderful, entertaining show.

Today I was saddened to see that Mr. Griffin passed away from prostate cancer. The first thing I did was call Mum, who agreed with me that it was ever so sad.

Rest in Peace Merv

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Keepsake Quilting

So this is where I spent a majority of my 38th birthday, at
Keepsake Quilting in Center Harbor, NH. And it was a great way to spend said birthday, with my cousin Susie no less!

Last year, when I got into quilting, my aunt Susan introduced me to this wonderful company, giving me a copy of a catalog--the equivalent of giving a small child a catalog to a chocolate factory's contents. My cousin Susie had also seen this catalog. After I placed an initial order, I told her what I had bought and she started poking around their website. Back in April, she suggested that we should meet up there for a day trip. My response, why not go for a whole weekend. And wouldn't that be a fun way to spend one of our birthday weekends? Immediately we started researching area hotels. Our first two choices were already booked solid. Susie found a hotel in Laconia, NH called The Margate and booked us for my birthday weekend. In the months that followed, I saved $20 a week and sold some collectibles on Ebay that I no longer had interest in.

Last week seemed to drag by so slow. We exchanged emails back and forth counting down the number of sleeps until our trip, what we were going to pack, I had lists going of what I wanted to bring. My parents took me birthday shopping for a new Vera Bradley bag and I opted for a satchel in the new Kensington pattern. I now had a nice overnight bag that I would want to travel with.
Arrangements were made for J to spend Friday morning with Mum so I could hit the road. Steven would take the afternoon off and most likely, they would head to the boat for the weekend with my in-laws.

Susie & I planned our respective departures to arrive around Noon. My journey would take about two-and-a-half hours, hers about four. Just as J & I were about to walk out to go to Mummy's the phone rang and it was Susie. She was running very late. Uh-oh. I dropped J off and said that I would probably delay my departure, but Mummy convinced me that it was Friday and that the traffic could be horrible. Yeah, good point, better hit the road and kill time up there, rather than be stuck on Route 495.

It was 9:00 AM. My car was packed. I had a basket on the front seat with water, a map book, directions to Center Harbor, my purse and my charged up iPod. I was ready to go! Then Mummy handed me two envelopes, one with my name and one with Susie's. There was a note written on both that said, "Not to be opened until the two of you are together, sitting down with a drinky-poo in hand." And there was a verbal direction, "Do NOT lose those!" Okay! Stored away safely in my purse and I hit the road.

As a side note, I decided that I would put together a little bag of goodies for J, that Mummy would give him after I left. It had fun things like Pokémon cards, a fun pad with markers, stickers, a couple of Hot Wheels cars, a Disney Adventures magazine, Sour Patch Kids and bubble gum among other things. While I was on the road, my cell phone rang and when I answered it I heard, "You are the coolest mommy ever! I got some very rare, legendary Pokémon cards. Thank you for all the fun stuff Mommy!" I was thrilled that he was so excited about his fun stuff.

Traffic, despite it being a Friday, was pretty light when I travelled. I made it to Center Harbor, in two-and-a-half hours just like the directions said. It was HOT there. I had hoped there would be a nice breeze blowing off the lake, but the air was so humid you couldn't see across the lake very well. Susie & I had made a promise that we would not go into Keepsake Quilting without the other, so I knew I had time to kill. I found a great little antique shop called Zinnia Cottage. It was a great little shop full of shabby chic antiques. I managed to find a nice old Kodak camera to display in my office for not a lot of money. I was thrilled at this find. There were no lunch places to be had, except for one that was very dirty looking, so I went into the local supermarket and ended up with the ultra-gourmet Oscar Meyer Lunchables (ick)--beggars can't be choosers when you don't have access to a microwave. As I sat eating, Susie called me to say she was at least another hour away and that I should go into Keepsake Quilting without her. I hated doing that, but since it was so bloody hot, I decided that it wasn't the worst idea I'd ever heard. So in I went.....

I was told by more than one quilter, prepare yourself to be overwhelmed. They were not kidding. I had my little notebook of fabric requirements for various projects with a mind to shop for them. Yeah, right. I decided that Friday would be shopping for the sake of shopping. And shop I did! The store has a desk near the cutting area that you can take a beanbag out of a flower pot and put on top of what you've selected so far. Yeah, I made good use of that.

Susie made it to the store around 1:30 or so. She'd had no lunch on the way and was starving, but was determined to shop a bit before we headed towards Laconia to where the Margate was. Now I should say that I am a colorful person and Susie is a muted, neutral color person. We've both been our respective ways our whole lives. The running joke between us is that Susie needs to embrace her inner purple. While I was sitting waiting for her, she found these lovely lavender filled stuffed critters.

Ultimately she embraced her inner purple with a super soft purple teddy bear and I opted for a sweet white floppy bunny with lavender blossoms in her ears. So Smelly Bear and Stinky Bunny are parts of our homes now! Smelly Bear was feeling shy and would not pose for a photo. I've always loved the scent of lavender and the added bonus to Stinky Bunny is she can be microwaved for 30 seconds and can be used for sore muscles because she's got flax seed inside her to transfer the heat.

Sorry, I digressed into scented stuffed animals when the task at hand is quilting, quilting and more quilting supplies! We both had a good smash & grab as my Aunt Val-Val used to say. While we didn't have drinky-poos in hand, we opened our envelopes together to find that Mummy & Daddy had given each of us $50 mad money, so we could both celebrate my birthday in style! Yeah, that money went quick!

After Susie finished shopping, we got one of the staff members, Gloria to take our photo in the store. I ought to add at this point, that Gloria, Catherine and several other store employees were on a first name basis with us by the end of the weekend! The staff there are a wonderful bunch of ladies and ever so helpful.

By now it was close to 3:00 p.m. and we were both starving--Lunchables just don't provide the nutrition of a meal. So we headed back to Meredith, NH in search of lunch. We ended up at the Mill Falls shopping & hotel area. This was where we wanted to stay, but by April the area was booked up. Next time we'll make our reservations sooner so we can stay there. Lunch was at a fun little Italian restaurant called Guiseppe's. We then wandered around the stores there. I found a lovely glass paperweight for Daddy's birthday. I just knew I'd find the right thing for him up there! After shopping for a while we headed to Laconia to check into the Margate.

We caravanned over to the Margate and it was very easy to find our way. We checked in and were put over in the Inn Building across the street from the main building. That was fine with us because it seemed quieter than being right next to the lake. We were located on the first floor, which made unloading our cars easy. First things first, we looked over our loot. We compared things we each bought, I think probably inspiring the other to buy something the next day!
After a while we went across the street to have dinner at the Gazebo Beach Bar. The margaritas were cold and the food was good. Life was good. We finished our dinner and went back to the hotel room, where we got settled in for the night.

The next morning we were up and at the hotel restaurant, Blackstones for the breakfast buffet. It wasn't the best meal we've ever had, but it was cheap & cheerful at $6.95 a person! Then we set out for Keepsake Quilting, with a stop at the Meredith Harley Davidson store. This is where we shopped for our guys. For Jonathan, we both bought him some little toy truck & motorcycle sets.

For Steven I bought a great new bottle opener with a skull on it. Our old Corona bottle had broken a few weeks back and this is a good solid opener and ought to last a while. Susie picked out a couple of shirts for Dennis. While we were there, we got to watch a motorcycle club that had gathered leave for their Saturday ride. It's pretty cool to listen to all these bikes fired up and watch them slowly roll out. After we left Meredith Harley Davidson, we went to Mecca--umm, I mean Keepsake Quilting. With our minds cleared and fun shopping out of the way we were able to think about projects and buy supplies for those projects.

I chose some lovely fall color fabrics to make some table runners with an Atkinson Design pattern called Square Meal
. I was determined that I was going to make some Christmas place mats out of some of the fabulous Christmas prints available, but nothing grabbed me int he Christmas fabrics. Instead I found myself drawn to the Oriental fabrics and opted for a nice palette of blues, creams and lilacs to make my placemats out of. Susie also wanted to make some table runners from a book that I have used previously.

She bought her fabrics, we both selected some Medley packs of fabrics that we had seen the day before and had ruminated on for our fabric stash. Once we were done shopping, we went back to the Mill in Meredith and had a fun lunch at The Broken Antler. We poked around the Mill stores a bit more, but it was so hot that we were quite tired by 3:30. So we opted to go back to the hotel for a rest before a nice birthday dinner.

While sitting in the delightfully air conditioned hotel room, we realized that Susie had not purchased enough fabric for her place mat project! Ack! So this time we went back to Keepsake Quilting for our third--yes, third--trip of the weekend. The girls in the store just started laughing when we walked through the doors and suffice to say, we closed the place for the day!

After driving around for a while in Laconia, we had dinner at a Chinese/Japanese restaurant before heading back to the hotel for the night. We went over all of our goodies from the weekend, we sat and read our respective books and my favorite part of the night was when we got silly with Stinky Bunny.
Lavender has been one of my favorite scents since I was a little girl.

Our Nana Summerbell always had a little bottle of lavender perfume on her bureau and if we were good, she would dab a bit on our wrists and behind our ears.
We had a bit of trouble sleeping that night being on the first floor, we kept hearing the upstairs neighbor walking, running, jumping up and down in their room until about 3:00 a.m.

We were both awake by 6:00 a.m. on Sunday. Saturday I had seen a sign for a local motorcycle ride for charity that would occur on Sunday. Yeah, we opted to get out of Dodge early. We had breakfast at McDonald's on our way to the highway. Traffic was light, thankfully at that time of day and I was back in Shrewsbury by 9:30 and enjoying a cuppa at Mummy & Daddy's.

So what all did I buy? Here are some pictures of "The Haul":

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